Cobalt-60 by Vaughn Bodé
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A strange book in so many ways, Cobalt 60 is a posthumous collaboration between the late Vaughn Bode and his son Mark Bode. Many have referred to Bode (the elder)as a hippie, but Cobalt 60 is anything but a story about peace and love and flowers. The plot is not terribly complex, but is satisfying enough, with a comically self-deprecating ending that carries the "peasant girl is really a princess" trope to its only logical, and ridiculous, conclusion. The dialogue ranges from informal to obscene. The artwork is what really pushes this from a 3 to a 4 star book, for me. Tracing the dates of when each was conceptualized and realized, it becomes clear that Cobalt 60 served as a strong artistic inspiration to Ralph Bakshi's movie Wizards. One also sees in the Bodes' work a powerful influence on much of the adult comic art of the late '70s and '80s as manifest in such magazines as Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated (Mark Bode's comics have appeared in both, incidentally). This world of aliens, mutants, swords, and science fiction is brought to vivid life through the Bodes' bleak, yet endearing scenes of desolation. Even at it's most violent and bloody, the post-apocalyptic world of Cobalt 60 is, somehow, cute. Take, for instance, the horde of man-and-crocodile-eating mutant crocodile soldiers. They are stupid, crass, crude, trigger happy, cannibalistic, and, darn it, really loveable! Even the Cobalt 60's arch-nemesis, the diminutive Strontium 90, could be marketed as a plushy doll by some enterprising toy company. Cobalt 60, the serious butt-(and head)-kicking assassin is a brooding, terse figure who takes himself so seriously that his ultimate fate seems perfectly fitting and ironic.
Recommended for those who like artistic hippies who have been corrupted by a libertarian streak and post-apocalyptic sword and laser fiction that glowers, then laughs at itself. Nihilistic and heartwarming at the same time - perfect for those with a dark sense of humor, but without the stark sarcasm oftentimes present in such works.
If you can't find the work at a decent price, you might want to go to Mark Bode's website and drop him a line. That's how I found my copy - straight from the source. Of course, that was a few years back. Good luck!
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