Pros: Utterly fantastic third story; great set-up
Cons: Some inconsistencies
Rating: 4 out of 5
D.J. Butler’s Band on the Run: Rock Band Fights Evil Vols. 1-3 is amusingly creative and unusual. The rock band in question changes its name with every venue to try to avoid those who might be searching for them. The band consists of a bunch of people who’ve been damned who have a beef with Satan. Eddie, the guitar player, tried to sell his soul for musical talent, only he worded the request badly and now he’s the world’s best tambourine player. Mike, the bass player, sees his brother’s vengeful ghost whenever he isn’t blitzed. Jim, the singer who doesn’t speak for fear of drawing unwanted attention, is Satan’s son. Adrian, who plays the electric organ, is a narcoleptic sorcerer. Twitch, the drummer, is an outcast fairy who can turn into a horse or a falcon. Together they’re searching for ways to stay under the radar while simultaneously looking for things that might give them some leverage with the powers that be.
The first of the three volumes in this story is the tale of Mike’s introduction to the band and is told from Mike’s perspective, which makes for an easy introduction via the outsider’s viewpoint. At first he’s just filling in for the night due to the death of the band’s previous bass player, but when a hellhound and a bunch of demonic flies attack, he gets pulled into the fight. When the band realizes he, too, is damned, they decide he can join them. The band goes after an unusual, extremely old mystical talisman of a sort, and goes up against Heaven and Hell to retrieve it.
The second story is told from Eddie’s perspective, which is nice for some variety. The band drops straight into fighting serpentine demons in a small town, and Adrian gets poisoned. In order to save Adrian’s life, the band will have to track down an itinerant preacher, go after a giant Lamia, and prevent the summoning of an ancient Egyptian snake god. The story of the talisman from the previous tale gets totally dropped as if it never existed, and the first fight of the story explodes of out nowhere in a bit of freak timing that makes it feel a little off. Mike also feels a little flimsy as a character this time around. The rest of the tale, however, is very creative and interesting.
The third story is dynamite! It’s told from the perspective of Jane, a very old and powerful woman who’s tracking down the band to take something from them. (Which is to say, the plot from story number one finally reappears, although the item in question is still little more than a MacGuffin.) Jane’s perspective lets us see the band in a whole new light, and her tale is absolutely fascinating. The first two stories mostly showcase the band’s impressive fighting skills, whereas story number three builds up the most wonderful backstory for the world, involving all sorts of Biblical stories, angels, fallen angels, and so forth. Jane is an utterly fantastic character and I totally want to read more about her.
Overall I really enjoyed Band on the Run. I would read more, particularly if Jane was involved. I still want to see more of Jim–his story seems full of potential yet not a lot has been done with it so far.