Group Review: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1

It’s finally here, Gerard Way’s big return to the comic industry since his break out hit The Umbrella Academy. If you picked up the FCBD edition then you’ve already had a taste, but we’ll see how it shakes out. By now you’re familiar with our group review format, but in case this is your first here it goes; each of the writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give their thoughts on the issue and then give it a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass. Here’s a blurb about the book from Dark Horse and then the reviews are after the jump. Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one—the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it’s left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI or else join the mindless ranks of Bat City!

Fabulous Killjoys #1 CoverSamantha: Buy

The art by Becky Cloonan is off the chains in this comic. (Don’t mind me I have been listening to lots of old school rap lately). The art feels alive with its vibrant colors and raw lines. Sometimes I find myself only reading the text in comics but here I can slow down to enjoy every picture and the reactions along with them.

Honestly, I could probably get into any comic that involves a cute cat in some way. I have loved cats before they were cool. Not that this cat has any major role as of yet. Just spotting him in the background licking himself is always a plus.

Besides for my obsessions with cats, this comic has got an interesting story of how corporations take away humans need to be individuals. The city is shit and all the rebels live in the country thinking they are fighting the man. Obviously someone needs to take a bigger stand and start at the root of it all; the city. Stories revolving corruption of our minds with corporations are always going to be a go-to comic for me. It is so prevalent in our lives. The story can only get more off the chain and the cat will claw someone’s eye out, at least we can hope for that.

Serg: Borrow

Gerard Way has officially confused me. Don't get me wrong, I was a HUGE My Chemical Romance fan circa 2004-2005 and I really enjoyed Umbrella Academy but The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoyswas a bit of a head scratcher for me.  Unfortunately my love for MCR fell to the way side so I never really listened to Welcome to the Black Parade or, the follow up album, Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, which I just found out was the name of the album when I looked it up. If the story is based off of the concept for the album then I think that I'm missing quite a bit of back story here. The Comic reminded me of an Adult Swim cartoon and I felt that the writing was all over the place. I like that the "Dracs" were some sort of police and gave their captive the mask that would make them hallucinate crazy shit and it I'm interested in seeing what the Killjoys were protecting the main character from.

The art was pretty cool, can’t say it was anything special, but I enjoyed the landscape art more than the human characters. The art captured the isolation of Battery City with the abandoned electronics everywhere and the desert setting, but again the style itself isn't anything I haven't seen before. I'm going to give this issue another read after researching and giving a listen to the album of the same name. Some of you may be thinking that I should have done that before writing the review but there is a method to my madness and I wanted to give you a true first impression of the book as it may be read by so many of you, knowing nothing about it.

23518Connor: Borrow

I've never really been a fan of My Chemical Romance and it was only after looking up about this book I realized it was written by the front-man Gerard Way. The story is a little confusing and I wasn't too sure of what was going on, only getting an idea by the time I finished reading it. I'm interested in checking out the next issue to see if it really is something that I want to continue but right now it hasn't really done anything for me.

Maybe I would have understood more if I looked into the story with MCR's latest and final album. Apparently this comic is a continuation of the story expressed in that. Having that knowledge when reading this, the connection to music is so obvious, but I can't decide whether I like that or not. I find music and comics are often intertwined but hard to pull off. At least check this out, especially if you are a fan of the band.

Steve: Buy

In one issue, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys has leapt to the peak of my new comic book obsessions. This bizarre, infinitely nuanced, cartoonish yet harrowing world is nothing short of addictive. It’s like this outrageous mix between the gauntlet-survival gang-banging world of The Warriors and the maniacally outlandish misadventure of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: the kind of “clustermindfuck” that gets into your head like an incessantly catchy jingle or show tune ... or a goddamn skull saw. The depth of atmosphere and tone that Simon and Way have accomplished in crafting this story about an spiritually-bankrupt, bureaucratic wasteland may match, and even potentially exceed (though it’s too soon to know for sure) what Way originally achieved in The Umbrella Academy.

It’s that damn good. In terms of art ... well, Jesus, I mean just look at this thing. I’m a relatively new fan of Becky Cloonan, and have been really enjoying catching up on her older Vertigo stuff, as well as her more recent self-published minicomics, but here, she has become something else. Something more. Here, she is at the top of her game, and has, for me, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she should be considered as one of the comic book world’s most talented top tier artists. Altogether, the look and feel of this book has lulled me deeper into its universe (I’ve been YouTubing the crap out of the videos from the My Chemical Romance album of the same name), and I am so excited to see this series grow, it’s a little bit scary.

Ed: Borrow

I think it’s fair to say I have mixed feelings about this comic, so I’m going to have to sit on the fence and give it a “borrow” rating. I adore the art but the story so far hasn’t moved me and I was left feeling as though there was something missing. There’s a lyrical vagueness to the plotting and captions (which I guess is appropriate for a comic by a musician like Gerard Way), with much of the setting and characters only hinted at in this first issue, and though I suspect that a lot of people will thoroughly enjoy it I often felt as frustrated by this as I was thrilled by some of the action.

Becky Cloonan’s confident and expressive inks have once again demonstrated why she is amongst the greatest comics artists currently working in the industry, as anyone needed the reminder. Somehow there’s always just enough detail to beautify every panel, with distinctive characters and atmospheric locations, yet there’s also a well-judged economy to Cloonan’s lines that ensure the readers’ eye always flows over the page at the right pace for the story. I’m always impressed by how Cloonan is capable of adjusting her style to suit the story she’s working on and Killjoys is no exception; here her character designs take on a more cartoonish, almost Scott Pilgrim-esque quality and leaves a lot of open space on the page, giving the comic a distinct pop vibe I’ve not seen in her previous work. A lot of credit should also go to Dan Jackson for keeping the pages bright and breezy and always ensuring that his bold colors work to enhance Cloonan’s lines rather than distract from them.

It’s quite a common thing to say but I genuinely suspect that it will work better as the first chapter of a collected edition than it does on its own, that way readers will have much quicker answers to the many fundamental questions that remain about the world of The Fabulous Killjoys. I’m optimistic for future issues and it’s easy to see that there’s a lot of bright ideas behind the comic, especially in the mysterious radio voiceover and the corporate-dystopian setting, but I can only judge the material I have in front of me; hopefully we shall see its ideas explored to their fullest as the series goes on.

23517Jordan: Buy

What do you get when you match Cartoon Network’s early 2000s MMO game Toontown with Mad Max? The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Set in a zany world where evil is created via some strange infectious form of Michael Myers mask and everyone that’s a hero could also model for Forever 21, this comic promises from the get go to be like nothing you’ve ever seen. Jokes aside though, once I could suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the absurdity of it all I really enjoyed this comic. The loony ideas, melodrama and aesthetics reminded me of times spent with games like Jet Set Radio Future and Kingdom Hearts all wrapped together and given to me in a package I can appreciate today.

Dustin: Pass

Nanananananana, pass! Originally I was going to be a “borrow”, but after thinking on the series… I just couldn’t do it. It has a ton of cool elements, but that’s about it. There’s no real story and all of it feels artificially created around the numerous concepts introduced. Part of me wants to be washed away with the story, but the onslaught of music lyrics and the lack on introduction to the world and characters really hurt this series. Way seems more content with just getting the idea out there rather than producing a well-polished comic book like he had previously done with Umbrella Academy. The hunger to create isn’t there with this one.

Usually I’d say something like “Cloonan’s art is Cloonan’s art”, but it’s actually unrecognizable. Sure there are aspects that are familiar with her art, but her character designs and usual nuances are blown out by the world. For such a desolate place it has a ton going on and everything tends to get lost in the infrastructure of the world/setting. After reading the FCBD issue and this issue, I’m convinced that the story isn’t going to become any more stable than it already is.

Score: 3 Buys, 3 Borrows and a Pass

Writer: Gerard Way & Shaun Simon

Artist: Becky Cloonan

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 6/12/13