The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys #4 [Make Some Noise!]

The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys #4 (Dark Horse): The pure plight of “Blue” and her mechanical lover “Red” feels like something influenced by the humanistic and metaphysical science fiction writing of Philip K. Dick. There’s something about porno droids finding their humanity under the watchful eye of an authoritarian government that sets an example for actual humans, causing some introspection for us regarding the cost of collective modernity to the soul. The very first inset panel on the first page of this issue is the image of a boot-stomp, representing the didactic oppressive regime of Battery City, one which Blue and Red seek to flee, literally running away from the city in order to die on their own terms. If they truly have to die, one with a dwindling power source, and one simply without the other, they’re going to pick the time and place in a final act of romantic defiance, thank you very much. I don’t throw the words “brilliant” or “expert” around too often, but they certainly apply to the craftsmanship of the way this sequence ends under the hands of Shaun Simon and Gerard Way. That top-left boot is bookended by a mirrored bottom-right butterfly in tight zoom. It’s the other side of the thematic equation, a man-made object with cold hard brute force being met with the warm transformative properties of a natural creature in flight. The simple sense of freedom in this symbolic imagery is tidy and powerful in a way that most comics can merely grasp at.

The butterfly also makes for an elegant and stylish segue to The Girl in the desert, our girl – the chosen one, presently shacked up with Val Velocity and the Ultra V’s. While she’s getting her new ‘do and continues to make ready her ability to take out roaming dracs with a ray gun (schematics and gun safety guidelines found in the backmatter, love it!), Becky Cloonan frames her shots with all manner of clever eye-catching aplomb, silhouetted figures forming borders, centering on the figures of cats (important later!), seemingly random squints with her trademark flicks of ink under the eyes, or high-set horizon lines that lend a sense of urgency to everything that inhabits them. Cloonan knows how to push and pull the reader’s eye around the page, this much she’s learned about panel to panel dynamics, to draw you into what is the best art of her fabulous career to date, certainly “young and full of juice,” and I’ll eagerly keep tracking her career, from the early days of Demo to whatever she’ll be doing a decade from now. Shit, if she’s gotten this good in the last decade, there’s no telling where she’ll be when another passes. Lit by the colors of Dan Jackson, Cloonan gets me good in the quiet times, clutches my heart with a simple shot like the image of Blue leaning against a rock in the desert: sad, solemn, and beautiful.

Out in that desert, the party happening isn’t just empty teenage rebellion, but a purposeful call to arms. Korse, too, is experiencing a rebellion of sorts, but his conflict exists in his mind, in his heart, and threatens his very being. Korse is the best kind of villain. Not only is he just visually iconic, with the obvious meta reference to music videos and corporeal manifestation via comics shaman Grant Morrison, but he’s a deliberately multi-faceted character. He’s not purely benevolent, ‘natch, but nor is he purely evil in the stereotypical ways. He’s emotionally conflicted, making his villainy all the more tragic, undergoing his own brand of struggle for love within BLI’s Battery City. Oh, his boss! Placing her in dominatrix gear as this existential crisis is occurring isn't just eye candy, but another very interesting juxtaposition that reveals the fact that true love always comes with a little pain. Tragedy is so closely tied emotionally to romance, the two are intertwined in the best most timeless love stories (one need only consider the prototypical Romeo & Juliet to rest this particular case). Whether it’s loss and longing in a general sense, or exterminating Killjoys and hiding his own forbidden love in a more specific example, the death of life and the birth of something passionate are like thematic peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that taste great together.

Korse, Blue & Red, The Ultra V’s, The Girl, DJ Cherri Cola, pick your character of choice, basically all of their narrative elements exist in a state of conflicted turmoil. The character arcs for most of the key inhabitants of this series involve carving out a quiet space to listen to the faint whisper of their own intuition, their inner nature telling them what’s right and suggesting a direction vs. the totalitarian system rigged to keep them down and avoid that individuality at all costs. They’re all different manifestations of this universal struggle. In a nutshell, that’s the primal power of The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys. It’s speaks to freedom, of the utterly American sense of revolution, of the inner hero lurking in all of us, a subscriptive desire to set free whatever physical and emotional bonds exist within our own insecurities or in our actual reality. It’s the burnt orange crackle of that boom box, the electric charge signifying that “the future is bulletproof,” and the constant threat of that last minute reveal which seeks to test the urge of that primordial theory.

As the creators suggest, there’s definitely a hurricane brewing on the outskirts of Battery City, and just on the waking edges of the periphery of some of its inhabitants too. It’s all embodied with a lone DJ fighting for his life and filling the illicit airwaves in a disenfranchised pop culture tradition that includes everything from Christian Slater’s pirate radio station in Pump Up The Volume (Soundtrack: “Everybody Knows” by Concrete Blonde), to Radio Free DMZ in the hands of Brian Wood (Soundtrack: “Just Like Honey” by The Jesus And Mary Chain), and Malcolm Reynolds broad-banding the truth all across the ‘verse (Soundtrack: “Club Foot” by Kasabian) because “you can’t stop the signal,” and the true Killjoys will always burn to make that sweet, sweet noise. Grade A+.


At 6:46 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I picked it up. Thanks! Becky rocks!

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Glad you enjoyed it. Becky does, indeed, rock.


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