Story by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art by Becky Cloonan
Colors by Dan Jackson
Cover by Becky Cloonan
32 pages / $3.99 / Color
Published by Dark Horse Comics
You don’t need a sword to cut through a flower. That’s a paraphrased line from the song ”Whatever Gets You Through the Night” by John Lennon, from which the title of this issue takes its name. And that’s an apt metaphor to explain just how Gerard Way, Shaun Simon and Becky Cloonan have approached telling the story of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
This is the story of a rebellion — a failed one, rather — and how the survivors pick up the pieces and decide for themselves where to go next. With the kind of dystopian landscape in which Killjoys is set, you might think you can predict how the story will be told — down-to-earth, gritty, gloomy and defeatist. But this story, and these characters, are anything but predictable.
On my first read through of this issue, “frantic” is the word that came to mind. Way’s well-honed staccato dialogue is an art unto itself, and you can’t really grasp it all unless you give this debut issue multiple read throughs. Conceived originally as a sequel to the 2011 album Danger Days by his band, My Chemical Romance, this comic has evolved into an excellent standalone piece that in many ways works better on its own–there’s a lot to be gained when the reader is kept in the dark about the events that take place prior to the start of the issue.
The story centers around an ambiguously named girl named… well… the Girl. She’s the last survivor of a group of freedom fighters named the Killjoys who went down in a blaze of gloty fighting off a megalithic corporation named Better Living Industries (BLI). This story takes place a good time after that fatal showdown when the Killjoys have gained a bit of a legendary status among the people causing some to look to step into their shoes.
On one level, you can read Killjoys as a story about passing the torch from one generation to another; about the deeds of parents and mentoring figures from your childhood being transformed by bombastic storytelling. It’s about a younger generation trying to take in the actions of the older generation and really comprehend what they did and not be dashed by the halcyon nostalgia of what’s come before.
This new series is coming about via former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. A former intern at both DC Comics and Cartoon Network, Way became an A-list musician with his rock band but he came back to his original love of comics with the two ambitious Umbrella Academy miniseries a few years back. Killjoys acts as a more direct tie to his music career, working as the final chapter to the concept album Danger Days in 2011, which proved to be the band’s final release before their recently announced breakup.
Enough can’t be said about Becky Cloonan’s artwork on this. After working on everything from Avengers to Batman and Swamp Thing in the past twelve months, Killjoys shows her returning to her indie roots with raucous line work illustrating not just fantastical characters, but strange worlds and storytelling.
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 reads like some elseworlds sequel to the long-forgotten 80s movie The Legend of Billie Jean, and Way’s deliberate and definite style comes through in the dialogue, characters and set pieces of the story. Make no mistake — this debut issue is challenging, but it rewards readers after multiple read thoroughs and gives people a challenge instead of serving up their ideas carte blanche.
Story: 4 / Art: 4.5 / Overall: 4
(Out of 5 Stars)