The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys #2 [Make Some Noise!]
The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys #2 (Dark Horse): It’s becoming increasingly clear with the Battery City newsfeed that the entire population of the former LA Basin (revealed in the interesting backmatter for those not already in the know) is being systematically brainwashed and stripped of their individuality by Better Life Industries (BLI). Gerard Way and Shaun Simon focus this issue on Killjoy Sharpshooter-cum-DJ Cherri Cola as he tries to find and protect our young messiah protagonist near the ruins of The Nest. During the last issue, The Nest kept visually reminding me of something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on; I now think that it reminded me of the head of Zauriel, an angelic Grant Morrison creation (in lieu of being able to use Hawkman) during his old JLA run. Everyone knows antagonist Korse is based on Grant Morrison, so now I guess there’s some sort of ouroboros serpent-eating-it’s-own-tail thing happening. Anyway, I liked the mystery the first issue laid out quite a lot, not insulting the audience with exposition, simply world-building organically and letting the audience catch up and interact in that tertiary way that comics as a medium does so well. I like this issue even more; what it lacks in slightly obtuse mystery, it makes up for with more accessible intrigue, as the narrative intent seems to snap sharply into place and settle into a rich groove. There’s so much to like occurring in this issue, from sex bots attempting to secure new batteries and encountering nothing but the knotted bureaucracy keeping the populace in check, to Korse being demoted for surprisingly twisty reasons, to Killjoy costumes enshrined in a radio station that functions as the voice of the underground, to an uprising about to pop off against Battery City from out in the desert. I said it last time, but I’ll say it again. I believe this is THE art of Becky Cloonan’s career unfolding before our eyes here. She just gets better and better with each successive project. It’s so crisp and polished, capturing the pop iconography style (thanks to vibrant colors from Dan Jackson), as well as bristling with a dangerous energy lurking just below that taut surface. Her variable line weights give characters just the right attitude, whether it’s anemic frailty in the subtle emotional scenes, or a bold sense of power in the more earnest and emphatic sequences. There’s such a robust sense of design to her work, evident in the costumes, the cities, and the arid environments. “The Cloonan Aesthetic” (if such a thing now exists) is about counterpoints. It is thick and substantial, yet light and swift, moving effortlessly between those poles at will, from mean close-ups you can’t escape, to people hidden in the shadows and their own insecurities, she races the camera in and out at with heart-pounding effect. At this point, there’s no doubt in my mind that The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys will be cited as one of the year’s best books, inhabiting that elusive position between mainstream appeal and indie credibility. Grade A+.