KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read today

In 1977, famed make-up rockers KISS teamed up with Marvel Comics to produce KISS, the only comic book in history to feature Paul Stanley psychoanalyzing Dr. Doom. Also, the comic was printed using the band's blood. Literacy, ahoy!

Remember the arpeggios of excitement that zipped up your spine the first time you read Watchmen? Chances are you won't experience that sensation when you peruse 1977's KISS #1, which was written by Steve Gerber and features the art of Alan Weiss, Allen Milgrom, and Sal Buscema. Sure, if you're a card-carrying member of the KISS army (like Condoleezza Rice), you'll probably get an acute case of Jerusalem Syndrome, but if you only know the chorus to "Rock and Roll All Nite," you'll feel like you freebased a bag of confectionary sugar. Why? The comic is perhaps one of the most overweeningly sincere superhero origin stories you'll ever read.

KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read todayS

The band does not build a golem made of greased groupies, and nobody has sex with a radioactive spider. No love guns are fired, and Gene Simmons' primary character arc is complaining about how his dad wants him to become an accountant. The comic's willingness to treat the band as clean-cut superheroes is so profoundly not rock-and-roll that — when juxtaposed next to modern comics' laughable attempts to be rock-and-roll — the comic becomes rock-and-roll. Rock and roll is inherently iconoclastic, and by eschewing any semblance or claims to rock, the comic is rock and roll. Contrast KISS #1 with modern KISS comics and you'll see what I mean.

KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read todayS

Anyway, another reason KISS is maximum rock and roll is because it's completely insane. Being a science fiction comic book about KISS does not make it insane — indeed, scifi and superhero iconography has always been part of their shtick — but the decision to have a band who sang mostly about fucking and partying hanging out with Doctor Doom and (later) Howard the Duck was pretty odd (although nowhere as nonplussing as Marvel's 2006 decision to team up with the soap opera Guiding Light). Also, the band poured vials of their own blood into the comic's red ink. So yeah, if you track down this comic and eat it, you might get gonorrhea of the mouth.

But I'm digging my heels into my soapbox — what exactly is this comic book about? Our story opens with a teenage Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley walking the streets of 1970s New York City and complaining about being nerds. Mind you, they were probably dictating this comic over the phone from the Bohemian Grove, pounding Harvey Wallbangers with Zbigniew Brzezinski.


KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read todayS

Next, a wizard wearing a loincloth and stunner shades, who's getting mugged by a gang, tosses Gene and Paul some sort of eldritch cube. The guys run to the pinball parlor where they meet Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The gang bursts in and the guys open the box in desperation. Gene, Peter, and Ace receive magical KISS Mego dolls. Paul gets a ninja star and silently wonders if it is edible. The totems transform the youth into their KISS personas, and Gene Simmons promptly begins barfing fire and biting people with his shoes. Ace uses his new teleportation pours to zip them over to the Battery....

KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read today

...where Doctor Doom shows up in his moon-shaped spaceship. Doom is eager to prove that he has more sex than KISS, so he shows up with a surplus of minx. Doom begins screaming about how the guys have stolen a gypsy artifact known as "the Box of Khyscz," and his harem attacks the band. It's revealed that Doom's coterie of coquettes are Doombots, so the supervillain runs away, abashed by his army of Real Dolls. Ace uses his teleport powers once Doom retreats, and the reader is treated to a splash page of Paul Stanley's crotch to heighten the drama.

The comic suddenly takes a pointless digression into the Marvel Universe, where almost every hero expresses how indifferent they feel about KISS. The only two heroes to evince anything resembling an opinion are the Invisible Woman (who's a square and dislikes KISS) and the Hulk, who honestly has no idea what anyone is talking about and is making fun of Bruce Banner's race to himself.

At this point, KISS have several transdimensional adventures. For example, Gene Simmons and his carnivorous shoes battle Mephisto and his undead groupies, Peter Criss almost diddles a furry in space, and the guys run afoul of one of Latveria's most heinous traps, the stone hummer.

The comic ends with Paul Stanley using his newfound psychic powers to defeat Dr. Doom not with a giant psionic Telecaster, but with Doom's memories of his crappy childhood. Also, this marks the 500th appearance of the word "admonition" in this comic's pages.

KISS vs. Doctor Doom is the best and/or worst comic you'll read today

So yeah, we live in a world in which it's still somewhat au courant for comics to be hardcore. Women are in refrigerators and ex-heroin junkie superheroes are relapsing and saving dead cats. In the face of all this faux-angst, the most rock-and-roll thing you can do is be 100% stone-faced sincere and not have intercourse with that cat alien, despite the fact that you've spent most of your career inventing new forms of hedonism. Click here to see Ace Frehley create "your basic cone of force" and much, much more.