The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1
Script by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art by Becky Cloonan
Colors by Dan Jackson
Review by Joey Braccino
In the mood for some psychedelic pop-dystopia? How about some Tokyo-anime punk-aesthetics? Vampiristic antagonists sporting post-modernist zip guns? Post-societal vigilantes veiled by neo-noir, ornamental domino masks? Well, a) you have a distinctly esoteric palette for storytelling and b) pick up The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 from Dark Horse today!!!
Gerard Way—former frontman and founder of the former pop-punk band, My Chemical Romance and writer of The Umbrella Academy—announced The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys way back at Comic-Con in 2009. At the time, the still-together My Chemical Romance was busy producing and getting ready to release their fourth studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, a concept album channeling sci-fi dystopia a la Blade Runner. Portions of the album told the story of the Killjoys, a group of post-societal vigilantes veiled by neo-noir, ornamental domino masks who fight against the tyrannical Better Living Industries (stylized BL/ind… GET IT!?). In the music videos/songs, the Killjoys befriend/adopt a young girl who sports a boombox broadcasting the rhyming stylings of Dr. Death Defying.
Apparently, and these are sort-of-not-really spoilers, at the end of the album, the Killjoys bite the dust as they say in the rock-world, leaving the girl and the world without heroes in an already-glum dystopia.
And that’s where Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys comic sequel kicks off. Way and Simon use the aforementioned radio-jockey Dr. Death-Defying to get all that exposition out of the way in the first page, introducing us both to the context of the world as well as our now-older heroine (the girl who survived the Killjoys’ last battle). Other mask-wearing rebels have attempted to step up and fill the void, but they’re nothing more than Killjoy-idolizers. The debut issue introduces to these rebels and the girl as well as the environs of Battery City and the desert where our characters are hiding from BL/ind.
Way and Simon’s script captures the pop-punk, alternative atmosphere of the source material. Stylized language and out-there characterization lends the book an other worldly pschedelia reminiscent of Casanova or Butcher Baker, except without the gratuitous sex and violence that some of these dystopia/postmodern stories sometimes devolve into. Instead, Killjoys opts to combine Western gun-slinging action with the sci-fi gangland action of Mad Max.
Genre-bending aside, the real highlight of this issue (and series) is Becky Cloonan’s artwork. Channeling multiple aesthetics from anime to Allred, Cloonan’s pop-inspired lay-outs and linework make for a kinetic, refreshing visual experience. Given the breadth of styles encompassed in the script, Cloonan’s artwork necessarily blends naturalism with surrealism brilliantly. From Draculoids to seedy motels to our teenaged protagonista, Cloonan simply shines. Dan Jackson’s vibrant colors are perfect for Cloonan’s anime-comme-naturalisma aesthetic. The blues and reds in particular pop out in a sea of Western-esque landscapes.
Check it out! The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is a refreshing new comic from Dark Horse. Sure, Gerard Way launches this series as a follow-up to My Chemical Romance’s final album, Danger Days, but Killjoys is very much a genre-bending sci-fi dystopic comics narrative. No party involved is treating this as a tie-in or “based on” story; instead, Killjoys #1 promises an engrossing, world-building opus. And, really, just buy it for Becky Cloonan; homegrrl’s artwork is on fire. #psychedelic
And here’s the single from the Danger Days album that introduces the Killjoys: