Posts tagged Becky Cloonan

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1-3 Review


Writing: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon

Art: Becky Cloonan

Review by Melissa Megan

From Dark Horse Comics: “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!”

16707That’s the first time I’ve copied a series description, word for word, from the publisher site. Please, forgive me. I’ve been holding off on reviewing The Killjoys because I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around how I feel about it. Part of the predicament has been because it’s just a confusing, overloaded story. I thought rather than waste time trying to clearly articulate the story synopsis for you, I’d prefer to use my brain cells on verbalizing my actual feelings about the experience of reading it. Thanks for your forgiveness.

I loved the Umbrella Academy and I love Becky Cloonan, so I figured The Killjoys had to be great, right? Well…sort of. There are some great, fun pieces here, but they do not connect in the most agreeable way. Let’s start with Girl, the main protagonist. She is the lonely prodigy of the long gone Killjoys, a band of glamorous rebels who lost their lives fighting the evil BLI corporation. These days, Girl roams the desert with her kitty, moping about her lost pals. When her old friend Cola discovers her, he tries to lead her in the right direction, away from the violent and unstable new teen rebel group, the Ultra V’s. The lure of anarchy and lip gloss may be too much for her and she becomes intrigued by the V’s.

There is nothing wrong with Girl, there just isn’t much anything with Girl. It’s hard to feel attached to her or even to give a damn what she chooses to do because she doesn’t offer much in the way of personality. Cola and his senior ham radio buddy feel a bit more deep as characters, but they speak in such silly, hyper stylized dj jabber it’s tough to hang in there to figure out what they’re talking about. Example: “The sodas gone flat, D. All the bubbles have popped. Carbonation is a thing of the past. The ghost of our childhood is staring us down in a rusted metal can” Uh, ok. preview-the-true-life-of-the-fabulous-killjoys-

The V’s are fun enough in a wild, teen spirit kind of way. My personal favorite characters (and story) here are the porn bots whose desperate fight to exist without fear of being deemed obsolete and trashed is tragic and dangerous. I’m not sure how much of a focal point they were meant to be, but I found myself more invested in their lives than any of the humans.

Overall, the True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys just comes across like a cocky, indulgent, angsty song put to nice artwork. Becky Cloonan does her thing well, I only wish I could say the writing was as polished. Unfortunately, issue #3 may be the last one for me. I know some out there are loving this series, but after giving it some time to get under my skin I feel underwhelmed and ready to shower off all the glitter and dust.

Channel Zero, The Complete Collection

Back in 1997, an art school student named Brian Wood (Generation X, DMZ, Demo) published a 5 issue series called Channel Zero, intended to be part of his final project for graduation. He was angry about New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani enforcing his freedom restrictive ‘Clean Act’.  As Brian Wood will tell you himself in one of many footnotes included ” I feel a strong sense of pride that Channel Zero still exists in print today. I’ll never be able to recapture that same creative moment I had working on this book.” He admits it’s a relic of the times, but not completely irrelevant in today’s atmosphere of conservative backlash against media, art, film and video games.

In addition to getting a gem of a look at the roots of Brian Wood’s future comic success, Channel Zero The Complete Collection also includes a prequel story illustrated by Becky Cloonan (Demo, East Coast Rising, Wolves) and represents the pair’s first time working together. The artwork all throughout this collection is raw and sharp. It’s minimalist, no fancy scrollwork or elaborate shading, no colors. What it lacks in fancy it makes up for in texture and heavy mood. The setting of Channel Zero relies on the reader feeling restricted, contained, a little on edge watching all the freedoms of America being washed away under power hungry political sewage. 

Channel Zero is about the loss of rights in a future America drowning in mindless consumerism. It’s also the story of Jennie 2.5, an art student who embarks on a commitment to fight the repression through hacking, cutting-edge media manipulation, and eventually befriending international rebels and supporters. This series presents a super unique view of the comic genre through heavy graphic arts techniques and touches on real world fears of politics, police aggression and commercial absorption of self expression.

The Channel Zero Complete Collection  includes the original series, the prequel graphic novel Jennie One, the best of Public Domain design books, years worth of extras, rarities, short stories and unused art. Throw in a great introduction by Warren Ellis and you’ve got a must-own collection. 

“For all its black and white somber mien, Channel Zero is, to me, one of the most uplifting comics of the nineties. Channel Zero is about winning. It’s about learning how to give a shit again, about finding ways to make things better. It’s about anger as a positive force of creation. It’s about your right to not have to live in the world they’ve built for you.” -Warren Ellis

If you’ve enjoyed Channel Zero in the past, this collection is a fantastic way to display it and share it with someone who hasn’t been there yet. If you’re new to Channel Zero , take my word for it and pick this collection up, as it’s best enjoyed in it’s entirety. And collected editions are pretty on the bookshelf.

Available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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