Friday, October 12, 2018

Chick Tract # 045: Bewitched? Review

Produced by: Chick Publications
Price: Free
Release Date: 2000

*Spoilers ahead, score at the bottom*


I confess: last week’s Chick Tract was sort of a bait-and-switch. We thought we were going to see a slasher film put to comic, but it was mostly a retelling of the hoary, pagan origins of Halloween and how we can avoid Christ by accepting Hell. Or was that avoid Hell by accepting Christ? I forget, I wasn’t really paying attention. This week’s special spooky Halloween review is going to keep you gripped because it involves a story about the occult, drugs, and…forecasting the fiscal quarter? Will I get struck by lightning or struck by boredom? Read on and find out!

We open on a full-page shot of Hell’s corporate boardroom, where Satan naturally sits at the head of a long, polished table and robed demons line the longer sides. They appear to be in a giant cubicle and the tops of the cubicle walls are on fire, which is a pretty good indicator that working conditions in the Underworld are less than desirable, even at the executive level. Strangely, Satan announces to his staff that the planned meeting will be postponed while he watches his favorite television program. A bit of an egotistical power play, if you ask me; I’m sure his demons could be processing paperwork or doing some other work instead of having their time wasted.

So the Devil’s favorite television show is Bewitched, which is just about the most awesome thing I have ever heard about Satan. He explains that this mid-1960s sitcom about a dude married to a magic-making witch made the public receptive to more popular occult programming on the air today. I think it’s pretty quaint that Lucifer watches classic television instead of said more popular shows, it implies that he’s got nostalgic sensibilities and a simplistic sense of humor, the big softie. I bet he remembers roller-skating on metal skates strapped to his shoes and playing box ball on the sidewalk in front of his mother’s stoop, too. This Satan is not of the usual “Middle Eastern Jackie Gleason” style that we see in many Chick Tracts, instead he looks sort of like Keanu Reeves with a goatee. I guess that’s his corporate look.

So the meeting is reconvened once Samantha saves Darrin using her witchy powers, and Hell’s demons report on their individual divisions. The bottom line is that evil and sin are doing robust business: Ouija boards are selling at an unprecedented rate (which I assume must be upwards of ten sets per year) while humans have turned out to be quite receptive to abusing drugs. A demon even points to a bar graph projected onto a screen showing that occult and astrological book sales are on a steady rise, though I see no breakdown for digital and print sales. Everything looks okay for the quarterly bonuses when one demon pipes up about a very serious problem: a grandmother is praying to save the soul of her wayward granddaughter, Ashley! Satan then pulls up a picture of Ashley that give him some stats at a glance.

Looks like everything checks out for this particular doomed soul, who, the demon tells us, has taken over sixty LSD trips—mixed with speed! This makes her prone to acid flashbacks, which are basically invitations to the Dark Lord to quietly collect your mortal soul while you’re busy freaking out. We then cut to Ashley, who wears a fringed leather vest and lives in a hippie pad with two dudes and a peace sign poster on the wall despite the fact that this tract came out in the year 2000. Ashley is having a heavy bummer from having recently buried her mom and decides to go see Madame Tossel, who puts her in contact with her mom during a séance. Ashley is so happy that she goes home to tell her grandma, and grandma is quick to tell Ashley what a silly little bitch she’s been.

Satan’s minions are worried that grandma will convince Ashley to get down with Christ’s crew, so the next morning they move to give her an LSD-induced heart attack that puts Ashley on the brink of death. Grandma prays with all her might, just balling her fists into swollen plums and squeezing her eyes shut with all of her power, ignoring the hectoring jeers of hovering demons that flicker between the afterlife and ours bringing with them the stench of sulphur and the burning heat of hellfires. When you’ve been a professional prayer for as long as grandma has, it takes more than a little razzing from the opposing team to rattle you.

Just before the buzzer, Ashley accepts Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and whatever, and her soul goes to heaven while the demons must eat some humble pie. And by “humble pie,” I really mean they must suffer threats of brutal punishment and torture by their boss, who, to be fair about things, is the Devil. This is one of the better Chick Tracts I’ve read, if only because there’s at least one narrative through the entire work and it doesn’t just cut away to eighteen pages of exposition. I love the idea of a corporate board meeting in Hell, or that demons have to report their progress at regular intervals—with helpful graphs and charts, to boot! Since I can recant up until the last moment before death, however, I don’t know if this comic really makes me want to stop sinning.

Bits and Pieces:

This is the first of this month’s Chick Tracts that follows a story from beginning to end, even if it begins and ends at Hell’s corporate headquarters. The story seems anachronistic, with folks in hippie garb dropping lethal quantities of acid, but I suppose some messages are timeless in that way. I enjoyed this story because I am a sick person, and would happily subscribe to whatever trade magazines might exist for Hades. Besides People Weekly, I mean.


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