BOOK REVIEW: KILL BAXTER / AUTHOR: CHARLIE HUMAN / PUBLISHER: CENTURY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
So how do you follow up saving the world in an interdimensional battle with an octopus? It’s a question which not only hangs over author Charlie Human, but also his protagonist Baxter Zevcenko in the sequel to the jubilantly violent Apocalypse Now Now. Deprived of a hero’s welcome and attending rehab for his dealings with pornography, Baxter decides to leave behind his manipulative sociopath desires and open a new, positive chapter in his life.
It’s an ambition which soon seems out of reach after he’s whisked to the magical training school, Hexpoort. More military camp than Hogwarts, here students are faced with spirit-crushing physical workouts, a thriving drug network and magical spells which are used to initiate sexual fantasies. Human even subverts Potter’s ‘chosen one’ credentials through Hekka, a classic school bully whose prophecy-inflated ego feels threatened by Baxter’s reputation and his own claims of saving the world.
Luckily, Kill Baxter doesn’t unfold like a rock ’n’ roll entry in the boy wizard saga. While these comical pop culture riffs are deployed cleverly at the outset, it’s only when Human’s own twisted imagination is unshackled that the fun really begins, delivering spectacles such as fashion shows populated by morphing skinsects and ‘faeries’ which aren’t so much Disney wish-granters as winged killers from a parallel nightmare, “the one where Sleeping Beauty gets nailed in her sleep by the prince and wakes up having already borne three kids,” as bounty hunter Ronin puts it.
Moments of glorious distaste come thicker and faster in Kill Baxter, with goblin fights and hysterical trips into the protagonist’s warped psyche filling the pages at every turn. The supporting characters are more memorable this time too, from Uzi-wielding conjoined twins, Faith and Chastity, to Baxter’s own personal pet, Gigli, a snake-like dragon who possesses a stubborn attitude to match his conflicted partner.
Even after brushing with the apocalypse, this emerging series hasn’t lost its frenzied bite. Kill Baxter is leaner, meaner and shows an unrestrained zest for dizzying, carnivalesque violence. It won’t win over the unconverted, but if you haven’t been introduced to Charlie Human’s South Africa, this is an irresistible ride which has lost all control of the brakes. Either cling to the handrail or be splattered in the dust.