By Stephen Wilds | Contributor Published: 06/12/2013 10:00 am EST
Publish date: June 12, 2013 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
“Grab your friends…and hold them close. ‘Cuz we got no time for heroes…and no room for ghosts.”
Gerard Way may primarily be known for his role as the front man of My Chemical Romance, but he is slowly and surely establishing a base for himself in the comic book industry. Now, after his Eisner Award-winning book, The Umbrella Academy, Way is finally unleashing his highly-anticipated, mysterious masterpiece, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, on comic fans.
I have to say this is the first comic I have ever read that was a sequel to a musical album. Continuing the story told by the album Danger Days, the title of the comic is a bit odd as the book begins with all of the Killjoys having been slaughtered in a fierce battle near Battery City, against the evil empire of Better Living Industries (B.L.I.). The book follows the lone survivor of the Killjoys, a special little girl who is left only with a black cat and a radio. Trekking across this post-apocalyptic wasteland, she listens to her radio for the advice of Dr. Death-Defying, and meets up with those few brave souls holding onto their colors to fight for their freedoms against the Dracoids, Scarecrows, and the rest of B.L.I.
If that last part sounds a bit confusing, it does not stop there. The back story from the album is accompanied by a rich mythos complete with deities such as Destroya, The Witch, and The Phoenix. The book has its own strange, indigenous individuals, like mysterious masked board members and android hookers, as well as terms that make the world seem alien and more like a post-modern civilization. The world feels different—an alive and monstrous place where Peter Pan’s lost boys got into an anime-western shootout with vampires.
The dialogue, like much of this comic, is an oddity. Portions of it are beautifully written and approach lyrical genius, but other parts come across as stereotypical, flat, and often confusing. The issue will make sense for the most part once the reader gets about halfway through, but many things have no explanation and will most likely only be explored slightly in later issues. The pacing is pretty fast with a lot crammed into this first issue. That isn’t uncommon, but leaves a lot untouched that could have been interesting world-building material. There are several symbiotic relationships outside of the main character that are only given a few panels before rushing back to build towards the explosive ending. If subsequent issues continue with the same pacing as the first, the series will end with the surface barely scratched on what feels so far like a quite in-depth world.
Becky Cloonan’s art compliments the story with an American technique, but enhanced by that Western-anime feel that I discussed earlier. The character design is intriguing and Killjoy’s tone is darkly enchanting. There are bonus pages at the end, this time in the form of a B.L.I. employee manual. Overall, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is an alluring oddity and worth checking out, which has entrapped me into seeing the series to the end.