The early 1990s have a well-deserved reputation for being one of the ugliest time periods in recent American history. Bad haircuts, terrible graphic design, poor fashion choices (day-glo, acid-wash, Grunge) and a whole slew of cultural missteps gave us entire years where sanity was only preserved by an unspoken agreement to just keep our heads down and hope it would all be over soon. Contributing to this parade o' awful, the world of comic books was doing its share to keep things lousy. The profit-driven speculator craze gave us an entire school of scritchy-scratchy Todd McFarlane-inspired junk where things like "story", "anatomy" or "characters" were ditched in favor of more important elements like full page pinups and must-have double-bag foil-stamped holographic limited edition variant covers.

Even as our culture became poisoned by the low art of comics, the comics themselves were infected by thousands of imitative wannabe hacks, aping the Image look and hoping one day to star in their own Levis ads and maybe, if they are lucky, file for bankruptcy along with their favorite creators. But that was all in the future. Let's take a trip back to 1994 and visit one of those hopeful young independent comics, carving a name for itself in the inky scratches of THE SHADOW SLASHER!!

The comic so awesome you can't say its name three times fast - SHADOW SLASHER! Guaranteed to give speech therapists a helpful diagnostic tool should they ever become concerned with palate development issues among America's speculative comic book collecting population. This being the second issue, we are provided with a helpful summary:

HELPFUL NOTE: that first sentence is actually about "Riplash", but this comic is SO AWESOME that it doesn't need things like "subjects". It's the 90s baby! So how best to get readers involved in the slick sheen of the shocking, shingular shaga of the Shadow Slasher? I know, a woman's ass!

See? Now you're REALLY interested! Hey I know, let's use it again!

Look out, the "vixen of vengence" has a renewed fury! I'd be furious too if I had to fight evil in a thong. Those things are uncomfortable!

Here "Riplash" addresses the reader directly. I love it when comics break the fourth wall! It's okay, "Riplash", we're sitting comfortably, we can take all the punishment your comic can dish out - even if your comic is so awesome it breaks the very panel borders!

You can tell this is a REALLY GOOD COMIC because of all that amazing scritchy scratchy detailed pen work as the Shadow Slasher groans in agony. Every tendon and vein is delineated with obsessive precision. Also, there's perspective of some kind. Two or three kinds. Just mix 'em up there, pal, as long as there's a lot of tiny details no one will notice the gaping flaws beneath the surface. Oh wait did I just say that out loud?

Meanwhile the alert police and news media are all over this important story about a thong woman and Spawn battling each other in Detroit! It's nice to see the TV stations in Detroit are hiring reporters with obvious physical defects; it's tough for people to get jobs after their heads were crushed by that "I'm crushing your head" guy.

YOU TV NEWS REPORTERS GET OFF MY BACK, says the tough cop. He's tired of those tough investigative TV news reporters getting in his way! Whether it's that case about which common household items can prove deadly, or that story about the new diet, or that investigation about the day care center opening, those TV news reporters are always underfoot!

I know when *I* go out to fight evil, it's important to make sure my expensive breast implants are displayed to their best advantage. That's why the tiny jacket with the huge collar is so important. And do we really need to be tied down by conventional notions of "answers" following "questions"? Panel one says NO!!

Even when pummeling cops and (once again) giving the reader a glance at her amazing crime-fighting ass, "Riplash" remembers to touch base about a friendly visit. Dropping in unannounced is just plain rude.

Relaxing at home? Why not plop down on the couch and get those legs as far apart as you can? Your teeny tiny feet need the rest!

Our heroes show off their contemporary casual look - wifebeater, tube top, strategically ripped jeans, freakishly oversized legs.

Apart from having her nose flattened in an industrial accident, "Riplash" posesses the amazing ability to be on two sides of a fence - at the same time! Look out evil!

Let's go inside and lounge around some more. "Riplash", I want you to stay out of sight! So definitely parade around Detroit in a hairstyle that Marge Simpson would think a tad extreme! And get some more rips in those jeans! One thing's for sure, the Shadow Slasher is definitely dead. Definitely.

OH NO THE SHADOW SLASHER LIVES TO SLASH THESH SHADOWS SHAGAIN!! Why he's even taken over the same photo from the first page. Is there no end to his shadow-slashing evil? Will the crazy speculative "boom" of the mid 1990s never end? "Wizard Magazine" says NO!! God help us in the future!!