The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Writer: Gerard Way
Art: Becky Cloonan
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT
Cover(s): Becky Cloonan, Gabriel Bá, Gerard Way with Tony Ong
Publisher: Mike Richardson for Dark Horse Comics
This week marks Gerard Way’s (of the now defunct band My Chemical Romance) return to the world of comic books after his stupendous debut The Umbrella Academy. After blowing away everyone’s expectations, and picking up a slew of awards in the process, Way looks to solidify his place in the comic book world with his sophomore effort The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys. Six years between projects is a long time, and the world wants to know if lightning will strike twice or if Way should stick to song writing. Well, look alive, sunshine, because Killjoys is one hell of a fun ride.
My Chemical Romance fans will know that the series takes place after the events of their fourth studio album Danger Days: The True Live of the Fabulous Killjoys. The album, like its predecessor The Black Parade, is an ambitious rock opera, set in the year 2019. The album tells the tale of an evil corporation, known as Better Living Industries aka BL/Ind, who’ve gone all big-brother and look to control the population, generally killing everyone’s good vibes. The Killjoys, a group of rebels who are looking to take down the BL/Ind end up sacrificing themselves in an epic battle to save the life of The Girl, an innocent who gets caught up the mess. If you haven’t picked up the album, don’t worry, it is not essential, though it is good listening.
The comic takes place twelve years after the events of Danger Days, and finds The Girl roaming the desert wasteland with a rag-tag group of Killjoy wannabes and avoiding the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W Units, white masked assassins who work for the BL/Ind and see all living things as monsters. Everything is going hunky-dory until The Girl comes across the mask of Party Poison, the deceased lead singer of the Killjoys. So will The Girl ignore the horrors of the world around her, or will she get back up on the saddle and reunite the band and save the world?
Gerard Way is an expert story teller. This was present even during the early days of My Chemical Romance. His songs, while being personal in nature, often make use of an omniscient narrator. It’s no wonder that he was able to cross-over into comic so effortlessly. He writes with the style and confidence of someone who has been doing this his whole life, which according to his bio, he actually has. The world that the Killjoys inhabit is fully realized with a language all its own. While it can be off putting at first, as the book progresses, the language ends up becoming second nature as you pick up the dialect along the way. Way has certainly outdone himself this time around.
With harsh realities juxtaposed by the dreamlike nature of the story, Becky Cloonan is a perfect fit for this series. Her style is fun, exciting and after the first page, you wish you leap into the panels yourself. And it is fun, for a little while anyway. Cloonan likes to hold the readers’ hands, lead you near a pool, and then push you into in the deep end. You can never be sure just where she is taking you. In one panel a character is smiling brightly, then in the next, the look of joy has turned to sheer terror as the horrors of the world choke the glee from the pages. Top this off with Dan Jackson’s bright and colourful palette, and you have a book that looks like a Disney cartoon and reads like an Orwellian drama.
One cannot shower enough praise upon this book. Way, Cloonan and the whole creative team have crafted a passionate story that can only come from the hearts of those involved. With everyone firing on all cylinders, it won’t be a surprise if you see The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys being a front runner at the Eisner Awards next year. A must-own title in every sense of the word.