Review: Mayday #1

Black Mask has been tearing it up on the stands recently with hits like We Can Never Go Home and Space Riders, and they’re looking to keep that streak going with two creators who are just ready to get over the cusp onto the A-List. Curt Pires (POP) and Chris Peterson (Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight - Bee Vixens from Mars) are strong choices in a world where strong choices are a dime a dozen--this is Hollywood after all. The story opens with Terrence Gattica winning an Oscar for his first film (“like watching Charlie Kaufman make love to David Lynch while Michael Bay filmed on an old-school Panavision”), and immediately taking a two-year bender at the Marmont to fuck his way into obscurity. During his dark times, he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time as two gunmen (Frankenstein and King Kong) kill the man in the bathroom stall next to him, whose only crime appears to be the whiskey shits. After posting bail, he sees no reason not to continue his bender, and ends up at another bar which is once again the wrong place and the wrong time. Meanwhile, two reporters try to get an interview with Benicio del Cocaine (more on that later) who apparently has a body farm in his basement.

Mayday-#1Mayday makes a lot of strong visual statements. Peterson’s art brings a lot of color and vibrancy to Hollywood, which is a place where color and vibrancy sometimes get so old they wash themselves out. His character designs all stand out, and his decision to put Benicio del Cocaine in an astronaut suit makes a super weird kind of sense. Alongside his standout character designs, we also get a series that is unwilling to adhere to traditional panel grids, which gives the whole thing a manic, off-kilter kind of energy that I really like.

Pires has fit a lot of story into 24 pages with this first issue. There are three disparate storylines, some jumping back and forth in time, and a really poetic farewell. These storylines are all interesting to me at some level, but rather than feeling enmeshed with each other, they feel like very clearly delineated storylines; when we check in with Benicio del Cocaine, there’s no indication of what he’s doing, or how it may relate to the main storyline whatsoever. I understand that the first issue has to set up all the conflict, but I feel like I got too much Benicio at the expense of some Terrence and Kleio.

The script also tends to walk that line between side-eyed disillusionment with Hollywood but also a love for the weird outside bits. Why else would there be such a specific description of Gattica’s film? Why would he be almost-named after the 1997 science fiction film Gattaca? While Peterson’s visuals do a great job of putting this story in a physical space in Los Angeles, Pires’ script seems afraid to be genuine, and has to toss out jokes that make him seem too cool for the scene. (Also: some of those jokes were probably intended to be kind of dated, but the Jared Leto one is surprisingly timely. Thanks, Suicide Squad!) Although, there is a “two girls one cup” joke in here that is solid gold, and a reference to “Monster” by Kanye West that is just pitch-perfect.

This is a madcap first issue, with quite a bit going on. There are storylines that I’m intrigued by, and the art is really spot-on. My biggest beef with it is that it seems like a cynical, coked-up Hollywood version of We Can Never Go Home, especially with the ending. It’ll remain until next month for us to see how each series veers from that deciding point, but it still stands out as a strange move on Black Mask’s part.

Score: 3/5

Mayday #1 Writer: Curt Pires Artist: Chris Peterson Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/29/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital