Tape Heads


Despite a superficial subscription to one of the most common tropes of superhero fiction—everyman ambassador of the mundane suddenly finds himself possessed of “something special, an ability or physical trait of some kind that sets you apart from everyone else”—Demo cleverly inverts the ideal, using these somethings special not as grounds for emulation or envy, but rather empathy. Each of the finite series’ dozen monthly issues features a self-contained story with particular stylistic and narrative trappings, from #3’s Twilight Zone pastiche to the just-released #12’s music video montage. The common thread is how the fantastic throws the routine into relief.

“Breaking Up” (#8) finds a young couple finally deciding to give up the ghost of their relationship, splicing the actual breakup with a series of flashbacks. The twist is that the guy has “a spooky ability to remember things people say, forever,” giving the remembrances of things past an unexpected gravitas, almost more a sense of reportage than fiction. And in the series’ high note, “Mixtape” (#9), a young man wanders, talking to himself (or to a tape left by his just-suicided girlfriend, or to a specter of the girl herself). The ambiguous weirdness is disarmingly beside the point, a means to the end of articulating what we’ve long since learned to take for granted.

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