Soul Plumber, the second comic published under DC’s horror imprint DC Horror, is the comics debut of co-writers Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski, both best known for their podcast Last Podcast on the Left. Soul Plumber is the story of Edgar Wiggins, a failed seminary student turned gas station attendant who is taken in by the Soul Plumbers, a group who, through hotel conference room seminars are spreading the good news of the Spirit Plunger, a device that, for a fee, could very well be the key to saving the world from the clutches of the devil.
There’s obviously a heavy critique of Christianity contained within the pages of Soul Plumber, particularly the brand of Christianity that has become the bread and butter of televangelists and adherents to the prosperity gospel, a doctrine that argues that wealth is a sign that God loves you and that the best way to increase God’s love for you is by donating to Christian charities, especially those run by them. There’s a particular line that stuck out to me in that way, at one point when Edgar is unable to afford the fee for the Spirit Plunger the salesman, Harvey Positano says, “man cannot live on bread alone! That’s from the bible kid, look it up. This ain’t a charity.” Positano is a man who, like many of the aforementioned adherents to ideologies like the prosperity gospel (looking at you Joel Osteen), dresses himself in the trappings of a man of God only to show the truth of his intentions when push comes to shove. Positano goes so far in fact that he wears a suit covered in crosses and drives a van with a giant light-up cross and a statue of Jesus.
Positano is a showman and, like the televangelists and con men who no doubt inspired him, is successful. After seeing a demonstration of the Spirit Plunger in action (complete with the supposedly possessed man yelling “your mother sucks cocks in hell”), the crowd goes wild and clamours to get their own Spirit Plungers so that they too can save souls like Positano did. Except he didn’t. As a later scene reveals, Positano has hired an actor to play the possessed man so he can swindle crowds of people with his fake machine. As he himself admits, he hasn’t even turned it on.
Which leads to the ending of this issue. Edgar has stolen the blueprints for the Spirit Plunger and has created his own version out of scrap from a junkyard, a version which he has turned on and used. Which is how the first issue ends, with a cliffhanger taking place immediately after Edgar has used the Spirit Plunger on another person. While I overall liked this issue, the ending felt rushed, cut short just shy of what would have been a more satisfying cliffhanger. The ending as it is feels somewhat jarring even if it did leave me wanting to find out what happens next and soon.
As for the art, John McCrea creates a world that feels gross in the same way that movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel gross (though admittedly Soul Plumber is, at least with this first issue, closer in tone to the sequel). There’s a sense of it being covered in dirt and grime that just works. McCrea was a fantastic choice to work on this book, kudos to whoever made the decision to bring him on board.
Soul Plumber #1 is not as scary as some of the other horror comics that are currently being published and honestly, that benefits it. Rather than competing as a straight horror book amongst other horror books, Soul Plumber instead exists as a horror-comedy book, something that sets it apart in a segment of comics that is in danger of very soon becoming oversaturated, that is, if it hasn’t already.