Look Alive, Sunshine: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys review

By BRIAN KESCHINGER
On February 4, 2014

Title: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Writer: Gerard Way & Shaun Simon

Artist: Becky Cloonan

Colorist: Dan Jackson

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Grade: A

On September 11, 2001, Gerard Way was sketching in his notebook on the ferry from New Jersey to Manhattan, when he looked up and saw something that every American alive at the time will always remember.

"I literally said to myself, 'F*** art.' I've gotta get out of the basement. I've gotta see the world. I've gotta make a difference!'" Way told Spin Magazine in regard to the 9/11 attacks.

Way was working as an intern at Cartoon Network in New York City at the time and went on to write his soon-to-be band's first song, "Skylines and Turnstiles," later that day. Just a few months later, in November 2001, My Chemical Romance was officially formed.

Aside from being the lead singer of an award-winning band and selling out concerts across the globe, Way continued pursuing his comic book ambitions. In 2007, he wrote a six-issue comic book series, The Umbrella Academy, which won the Eisner Award for Best Limited Series in 2008.

In 2013, Way revealed that he was approved in 2008 to write a limited Batman series under DC Comics' Vertigo line, but he just "never had time to write it."Way posted some of his sketches for the unreleased series on his Twitter account in 2013 with playful details about his would-have-been characters.

It would be easy for Way, a former lead singer of a successful punk band, to cash-in on his name and produce a comic lacking in substance.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is certainly not that comic.

Way co-wrote Killjoys with Shaun Simon, who toured with My Chemical Romance. During that tour, many of the ideas for the comic came to life.

The series is a sequel to the band's album Danger Days, which was its final album before the group officially announced its breakup on March 22. Released over a period of six months, the series follows "the Girl," who is the only survivor of the original Killjoys, an anti-establishment, freedom-fighting group of four heroes.

After the Killjoys were murdered by Better Living Industries (BL/ind) - a corporation-turned-government that is running a dictatorship and murdering whoever they please - a cult following of the Killjoys arises, misinterprets the heroes' actions and pursues BL/ind through naïve, power-hungry actions.

The universe and story are packed into a dense, elaborate six-issue series. With Japanese pop culture and manga influences, the series is a precise concoction of science fiction and vigilante justice that feels consistently fresh and visually enticing.

At times, Becky Cloonan's art is reminiscent of manga, but it is never directly derivative. The art is reigned in, with less exaggeration and more realism than manga, and the images are sharp and detailed.With a palette of bright reds, blues, pinks and greens, colorist Dan Jackson brings each page to life. The panels are shaded with exactitude, adding depth that polishes off the overall aesthetic of the series.

Killjoysoffers not only a fantastic narrative, but insight into an entire universe, one that's hopefully just beginning. At the end of every issue, there are two pages of BL/ind propaganda, case files and employee handbook pages that make the fictional world and company feel more believable.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is an excellent comic from cover to cover. Interesting characters set in a deep universe that are drawn and colored with depth and detail make this series successfully independent from Danger Days, while putting faces to the songs of its musical predecessor.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is the complete package.

 

email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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