Mayday’s second issue doesn’t quite get away from the things that I had an issue with last time. In fact, this time around, it chooses to highlight a lot of those things and really lean into them, which is an interesting disconnect for me as a reviewer--I want to critique things about the book that the book is actively pushing back against me for critiquing. Maybe Curt Pires is just smarter than I am. This issue picks up with a flashback of Terrence Gattica, having just won his gold statue, and moping about being successful and disaffected. We smash cut to Terrence and Kleio on the run from the bar where they met the animal-headed hitmen last issue, when Kleio discovers that they plan on hitting five separate locations that all make a pentagram. They try to head the assassin’s off at the Hollywood Bowl, only to discover they’ve stumbled into a trap (of course). Meanwhile, evil supergenius Benicio Del Cocaine reveals a little bit more of what he’s up to with these animal-headed folks in his Brotherhood of Filth. As the main plotlines play out, we also get glimpses into the life of a mysterious man (possibly Benicio in an earlier life?) who tries to commit suicide and joins the Brotherhood of Filth.
I want to take more issues with Pires’ pacing here, but the way the book is laid out, I’m pretty sure it won’t let me. The book lets on how self-aware it is in a sequence where Terrence and Kleio are talking about how they’re living an action movie, and Kleio points out that things won’t work out like an action movie, because it’s a comic. Later on, when things seem their worst, Terrence-as-narrator tells the reader not to freak out and jump to conclusions because “it’s only issue two. Give it some fucking time.” I’d love to do that, but at this point, we’re halfway through the series, and I’m still not entirely sure what Terrence or Kleio wants, and they’re our protagonists. I know what Terrence doesn’t want--on the second page, his inner monologue says he doesn’t want to die alone. That’s fine, but that’s not a goal that one can take steps towards. There’s a lot of scenarios that aren’t “dying alone.” If this were an ongoing series? Sure, that would be a totally okay statement to make. You don’t know if there’s going to be another five issues or another fifty. But here, it feels like just this side of an apology.
Meanwhile, Chris Peterson’s artwork is the highlight for me once again. He captures the action-movie feel the book requires for scenes like the Hollywood Bowl shootout, but he also sneaks in a few masterfully introspective sequences during the unnamed man’s suicide and initiation. He breaks the page into way more panels and uses their layouts to subvert the images we expect to find. It’s an amazing sequence, and I wish I had a better way to contextualize it. Pete Toms’ color palette is also a win for the book, and I should have made sure to address it last time (there are no credits in my review copies, as my shitty way of an apology). He brings the paradoxical washed-out vibrancy of Los Angeles to life, a world where everything was painted day-glo sixty years ago, and in the intervening time, the sun has demolished it until only soft pastels remain. This is a team I can’t wait to see more of, as they’re building this incredible world.
Mayday is a book that seems to revel in obfuscation, in a more gleeful way than even a Morrison book does. I don’t know if that makes it the perfect book about LA or the worst one, but it doesn’t seem to give a shit either way, so I suppose I’ll be back next month for more information and possibly some answers.