Posted August 1, 2013 by Bunny Luz in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Cover of issue 001, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Cover of issue 002, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Issue #1 and #2
Story by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, Art by Becky Cloonan, Covers by various artists

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is a six-issue miniseries from Dark Horse that spins off from the album “Danger Days” by the now defunct band by My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way’s former band. I’ve been a fan of MCR since they started in 2001 and it was clear from the beginning that there was a narrative in a music — one that’s served them well from album to album.

But we’re not here to talk music.

“Killjoys” is set in the post-apocalyptic world built by the narrative of “Danger Days” where humans are forced to survive and fight to keep their identity in the “Desert” or fall into the hands of the highly industrialized “City” controlled by Better Living Industries. In the first two issues, four individual storylines stand out from the overhauling plot of resistance fighters (the Killjoys) vs. the Man who has an army of amnesiac, soulless footmen culled from the Desert stragglers. The Girl, a character who the original Killjoys rescued from B.L.I. circa the timeline of the album, Danger Days, is grown up now and trying to make her way in the world, the shadow of that legendary rescue dogging her heels. She runs into people who recognize her from that time and who hope to carry on the legacy of the original Killjoys who she doesn’t really want anything to do with. The trope of the Chosen One is prevalent here but in the first two issues hasn’t insofar proven its meat.

Other plotlines include an aging assassin with a dark secret and two android call girls who want to be together and the second issue introduces Scarecrow Korse, as an antagonist.

Cover of issue 002, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Cover of issue 002, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

The book’s biggest weakness so far is that it doesn’t allow itself to stand apart from the source material. It might be a little hard for people who are not a fan of MCR’s work to get into it. The album Danger Days builds the world set in 2019 post-apocalyptic California and the characters who comprise the original Killjoys (played by the band). It would help at least if interested readers would watch the music videos “Na Na Na” and “SING” which are pretty straightforward: they plays like two episodes that prequel the comic book. Although I myself am invested in the stories and the characters coming into the series, I hope that the third issue (out in August) will allow the story to gain some momentum and start to gel some of the more disjointed areas.

The book’s biggest strength is the creative team itself. For doubters, Gerard Way who started as an artist before starting MCR has Umbrella Academy under his belt, a solidly written alternative superhero team comic. Shaun Simon, his co-writer, was a supporting musician of MCR. The artistic team comprises Becky Cloonan (pencils and inks) and Dan Jackson (colorist); Becky, a longtime favorite of mine, has been friends with the band and helped develop a lot of the visuals for the Danger Days album and as a comic book force to be reckoned with, really brought that concept well across to the comic keeping a high level of consistency to the world set. The combination hard inks, neon colors and sepia filters really smack of a deserted California vibe, with the old school punk details and overall aesthetic that defined the album sound.

It’s a little hard not to marry the comic and the music, especially if you’re not a fan of the latter but on the other hand, it works as a package– combining the music videos, the music and the comic book plot, there’s enough to get invested in, even holes to fill and enough tropes to ride on, even create your own thread to work with– which I believe was the idea behind the concept of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: the future is bulletproof, the aftermath is necessary. Art is the weapon.

Read it if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic stories like The Road by Cormac McCarthy; comic books like DMZ (written by longtime Becky Cloonan collaborator Brian Wood), Tank Girl, Y: The Last Man, and The Walking Dead.

Bunny Luz