*Review written by contributor Lido Giovacchini
Killjoys is a very strange slice of Darkhorse that I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of, the series is co-written by Gerard Way lead singer and co-founder of My Chemical Romance. Short of Rob Zombie’s film work this is actually one of the only recent modern instances I can remember of a musician switching to another creative medium, which is probably for the best as the process can often be more then a little messy. For every The Wall or Help! you might get there are plenty of Purple Rain’s or Head’s. And those are all movies; they can work as mood pieces and utilize music and lighting to enhance a particular atmosphere where comic books have different limitations as a monthly-extended storytelling format which can be even more taxing for someone accustomed to working in a different medium like music. Of course Way has on his side that he’s written comic books before specifically the Eisner Award-winning comic The Umbrella Academy so he’s hardly coming into things blind.
Killjoys is the story of various teenage gangs and DJs out in the middle of a great desert, living, fighting, and riding around in the aftermath of some kind of apocalypse. There is also a place called Battery City which looks a lot like something from Bladerunner and serves as the headquarters of a super evil corporation called BLI (better living industries.) The action in this issue focuses around Cola (one of the desert DJs) and a young girl whose name is never given (but might be Sunshine) just sort of tooling around the desert together as Cola trains her to shoot and tells her about the people in the wasteland.
There is also the continuing adventures of Val, a biker gang leader who has painted his hair read and plans to attack Battery City (I think) and two lesbian porno bots in battery city that are in love and trying to escape their evil corporate overlords. I rarely summarize books this succinctly but with Killjoys there really isn’t enough going on with any one of these stories to honestly call it the book’s focus, they’re all jumbled together each one certainly interesting and cool but none of them afforded enough screen time to really let us sink our teeth into the story.
It might sound like the series is just a pastiche of various Scifi/Heavy Metal conventions, drawing from things like Mad Max and the aforementioned Blade Runner to create a hodgepodge of tropes, which is accurate if somewhat unfair. The many parts of Killjoys comes together to form a unique and impressive whole, the book is imbued with a youth and energy to it that few post apocalyptic stories have (often focusing on grizzled older characters who are all about remembering what was before.) Additionally Battery City maintains the post-apocalyptic atmosphere with the broken and damage design of the city while the romance between porno bots Red and Blue is earnest, believable, and real and their quest to escape the city is far more evocative of something like Logan’s Run then Blade Runner. My point is that the many stories and genre elements thrown together in Killjoys really gel nicely, bonded through a glue of unique perspective and well written characters.
No comic is perfect and neither is Killjoys, one of the problems with this issue is that even though there is a recap given on the inside cover it’s not a very helpful one, often falling back on alluding to events and assuming you know what they are. This is linked in to an over reliance on made up slang vocabulary which can get more then a little annoying in its goofiness or confusing when it’s used to relay plot critical information. Killjoys #3 is reliant on having read the previous issues and having paid more than a glancing amount of attention.
Characters will often slip into speaking like their reciting lyrics which can break the flow of the book but does increase the mood and atmosphere so call that a wash. The biggest problem with the issue is just how little really happens in it, the whole comic left me wanting to see more of what was going on with everyone involved which though normally not a bad thing here I think might be the result of the unfocused story as it doesn’t really seem like anyone of the 3 different stories involved actually progresses.
Killjoys is a great example of a comic can make up for leaving readership in the dark by just being a really well written comic. Even though the issue lacks a recap and doesn’t fill you in very well the world does a great job of drawing you in and making you want to know more, where most comics that lack a recap flounder because the story and the world aren’t interesting enough to make you want to learn more about them Killjoys has an imaginative world that really peeks your interest. The world itself never feels un-creative or flat and finds new energy and creative spins for tired old genre tropes all wrapped around very endearing and human central story, highly recommended.