It’s likely that you have forgotten that Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper once collaborated on a wickedly strange comic book. After all, it was twenty years ago and not only was Gaiman less of a star than he is today, the book wasn’t a stellar hit back in the day. Dynamite have acquired the rights and squeezed this book into a lovely looking hardcover, on the assumption that both the names Gaiman and Cooper will shift units.
Originally designed to tie-in with the Alice Cooper’s 1994 album of the same name, the plot of both the album and this book is the same; a young boy called Steven is lured into a strange theatre where he gets caught in the supernatural machinations of a creature that calls itself The Showman. The boy has to resist a series of temptations and the like, all during a Halloween week. The Showman, of course, looks like Alice Cooper and the entire thing is interspersed with snippets of Cooper’s songs.
Gaiman does his best to wrap a narrative round the concept, but this is pretty much a straight up ghost story of the kind that most adults will have heard many times before. Despite the two big names on the cover, the real draw here is artist Michael Zuli’s detailed and dream-like artwork. Zuli had worked with Gaiman on the Sandman before this book was created and it’s very clear that he’s used to the author’s style. We get a beautifully rendered and dream-like world from the artist, one that fits in well with the narrative. It’s sad and gothic in equal measure, lending the entire thing an appropriately sombre tone. It’s just such a shame that the story isn’t that strong.
Neil Gaiman's The Last Temptation 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Hardcover features an interesting (but dated) foreword from Gaiman and an up-to-date afterword from Zuli. The letter Gaiman wrote to Cooper and a sample of the script is a nice addition and actually one of the more interesting bits of work. Overall, this is one for completests; if you simply have to have everything that one of this book’s fine creators has ever made then this work will look very nice on your shelf. For the rest of us however, the 90’s were a long time ago and best left alone.