*Edited by Kaitlin Campos
And so we come to the end of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys in all its weird, high-concept glory. I’ve been following the series in review form since issue 3, which, in case you don’t remember, I hailed as being really damn good. Now, here at the end with issue 6. I still think the series is very enjoyable and original, but maybe not as strong as I thought it once was.
It still has all the youthful exuberance and imagination that helped to elevate the series beyond just being another post-apocalyptic fiction, and it manages to actually stand apart from the album it’s based on while still affording said album a bit more flavor, but overall the biggest issue Killjoys faces is one of growing pains. This is, in essence, the first work of this nature that Gerard Way and Shaun Simon have really done. Though Way has tried his hand at some self published comic writing in the past as well as his very successful The Umbrella Academy series, this is a far different game as an adaptation of a concept album (even though he wrote both, it’s still the transition of an idea across mediums), and as a result, a lot of his teething issues still shine through in Killjoys— in particular ones of pacing, introduction, and conveying his ideas and concepts to both his artist and the audience.
In case you haven’t been following the series, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is a comic mini-series inspired by (or somehow linked to) the My Chemical Romance album Danger Days (which I liked, but I’m not a music critic, so we won’t be discussing that here.) The series has revolved around several groups in a post-apocalyptic setting: the Killjoys, roving bands of teenage marauders in the desert who are sort of like if Road Warrior was reimagined by Hot Topic; Battery City, an oppressive electric metropolis full of pleasure bots and enslaved humans, all run by the omnipresent evil megacorp B.L.I.; Dr. Death-Defying, a radio DJ in the desert; and the Girl, the mysterious young female runaway around whom most of the story has focused.
That’s a lot to take in, and a lot has come before this issue, so it’s not surprising that very little of that gets conveyed to us through the text recap, but by the same token, this is the final issue of Killjoys, so I doubt many folks will be using this issue as a jumping on point. This issue is more pay-off than anything else; the big finale to the various started arcs and character runs as The Girl and an army of Killjoys marshal towards Battery City for a final confrontation. At the same time, we introduce the giant robot messiah Destroya (a name I will forever pronounce in a Boston accent), and there’s also the conclusion to the story of Korse, a former (betrayed) operative of BLI. If there’s a problem here, it’s that there’s a lot of stuff going on in this issue and it doesn’t all tie together as well as it could or should.
For example, the Destroya robot seems to be storming Battery City at the same time as the Killjoys, but neither group ever bumps into the other; they don’t even see one another, which is surprising, as Destroya is the size of a Jaeger. At the same time, the issue has a legitimate issue keeping the pace at a consistent level of rising intensity while also juggling the three storylines, often with Korse or Destroya’s part feeling a little flat and not as big or important as they should in the grand scheme of things.
A majority of Destroya’s attack on the city is shown in very cramped and tight paneling, but that seems to be a problem that extends to the entire issue. Honestly, this really feels like 2 issues crammed together into 1, though by the same token, it’s hard to imagine a way to break this particular plot up while maintaining the kind of high-octane intensity the ending to this story almost demands, so call that comparison a wash, I guess. Everything just feels cramped and pressed together, like consuming an entire spaghetti dinner in bar form; it’s still delicious and filling, but it hurts your throat on the way down and will most likely result in a trip to the emergency room.
Killjoys #6’s artwork really could stand an upgrade as well. Honestly, the writing still holds up well, and the only real problems it has here is compressed storytelling and a poorly explained resolution; the panel-crunching is much more on the artist, and looking over the pages, you can definitely see some slips in the artwork. There’s the very dull cover, weird, out-of-place speckling and blotches, gradient backgrounds, and what seems to be a legitimate problem conveying size and perspective, as well as sometimes where characters come from.
Overall, though, I would still recommend Killjoys #6; it’s not the best end the series could have had, but it’s still pretty damn enjoyable for all my complaints. The middle may have been a stronger portion of the series, but this issue still holds up well, especially in comparison to a lot of the other stuff I’ve seen come out this year. It’s sort of like that old adage “always shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll still land amongst the stars.”