Indie Comics Spotlight: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, BubbleGun, Rocket Queen and the Wrench


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1
“Look alive sunshine!” That’s always a good way to wake up, even it if means waking up in a desolate landscape with packs of marauders roaming and looking for death. It also doesn’t help if you’re a girl with a cat in that world, fighting for food and living off the memory of a reputation. That’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 from Dark Horse. The first issue is written by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, with art by Becky Cloonan, colors by Dan Jackson and letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical mega-corporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one–the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it’s left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI or else join the mindless ranks of Bat City!

Post-apocalyptic stories never seem to get old, especially when Way and Simon infuse them with stories such as that in The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. There’s an abundance of desolation in that world, despite the rebellious nature of some pining for a better way of life. Food is a commodity traded for and inhabitants of the world are forced to deal with Draculoids, starvation and a new way of life. What’s especially interesting is the girl.

She’s pitched as a link to the old way of life. That is, she ran with the Killjoys and that carries with it some weight, even in the bombed-out world she’s living in now. What exactly weight that carries remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the Killjoys achieved cult-like status, inspiring followers the world over. The story is largely told from her perspective and it works really well that way, providing something of an innocence to the guilt of the new world.

Cloonan’s art doesn’t really need any introduction, as it’s just really good. Characters pop off the page and manage to capture the emotion of the moment very well in their face and body expressions. She pays a lot of attention to the world they inhabit, even if it is just a lot of desert and rocks. There are some great action panels with bullets flying and the panels showing the Draculoid effects give the reader a good sense of what exactly everyone has to deal with on a daily basis.

There’s a lot of fun stuff happening in The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1. It’s poised to be a series that won’t pull any punches and wants readers to know that life isn’t happy. The girl is something of a hero and is trying to survive, but things aren’t going to get any easier. The Fabulous Killjoys are legends in their own right and cast a large shadow over the new world, which pretty easy considering it’s all sun and desolation. The series is shaping up to be very interesting and exciting.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 is in stores now.

BubbleGun #1
“Your alcohol level is only at .06 percent. Would you like to have another?” That’s a line offered to those in a celebratory mood and what exactly they’re celebrating could be anything from a new baby to a new job to a successful heist. All three generally make interesting stories, but it’s the heist one that Aspen wants to tell in BubbleGun #1. The first issue is written by Mark Roslan, with art by Mike Bowden, colors by David Curiel and lettered by Josh Reed.

In 2113, Neocapital serves as home to Inotech, a vast corporation with lots of shiny toys and research that others outside the company want to get their hands on. This prompts the hiring of Devyn and her group of thieves, a group that includes her sister Molli. Their most recent heist is bigger than even they expected though, forcing them to compete with a rival gang of thieves and draw the attention Craine Drow and the Vitradone syndicate.

At its core, BubbleGun #1 is a heist story and Roslan has infused with all manner of roguish type. Devyn and Caprice each manage their own teams of thieves with various talents and both teams are often competing with one another for the same prize. It offers a ready-made competition between the two that serves great conflict in the issue, even if Caprice’s team isn’t the real threat. The real threat seems to be Vitradone and they’re intent on taking from Devyn what they took from Caprice.

BubbleGun‘s world is full of high stakes thievery, but what makes it really sing is that it’s more or less told from the viewpoint of Molli. Molli is Devyn’s little sister, new addition to the team and owner of a BubbleGun, which does what its namesake implies. She offers up the expected brashness of being on the “winning side,” despite the fact that she’s more or less a rookie on the team. She’ll likely create even more conflict for the group based on her character alone.

Bowden’s art has a Square Enix feel to it. That is, it looks like some of the old-school JRPGs for SNES like Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger. It’s not pure anime, but Bowden definitely draws upon that style for illustrating the characters, depicting some who seem larger than life and others are very stylized. It works for the setting of the book and helps establish the tone that the reader is entering a futuristic landscape rife with big corporations and even bigger stakes. Fight scenes are also handled well, flowing with the story.

For a first issue, BubbleGun #1 does a lot of good. It is a classic heist story, with classic heist competition and classic heist stakes, which means that you can expect fast-paced action and adventure. Molli’s role as both the voice and loose cannon will guide the series where it needs to go, although it’s likely she makes a mistake down the line that causes strife between her and Devyn. Right now though, enjoy knowing that there are characters who can generate mech arms from suitcases for a diversion.

BubbleGun #1 is in stores now.

Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1
Superheroes do have families, believe it or not. It may be that they’re comprised of one hero and non-heroes or the entire family has the superhero in their genes. Superhero families offer a twist on the familiar family dynamic, especially when that family copes with change much like that in Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1. The series is written by Justin Peniston, illustrated by Ramanda Kamarga, colored by Rainer Petter and lettered by Jacob Bascle.

Jamie Baldwin is on the cusp of graduating elementary school when, for some strange reason, his rescue is necessitated and executed by Captain Zoom, Rocket Queen and Lady Kamikaze. That’s all well and good, but things don’t go so well for Jamie in the next few years, as he gets into more than his fair share of trouble, his parents appear to divorce and the strongly hinted matriarch of a superhero family passes. Jamie’s stay with family friends for a summer proves to be much more than summer school though and my provide clues as to unraveling the mystery of the Darians.

There have been many superhero families in comics and all of them showcase some form of the family dynamic in their interactions. Peniston has made Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1 no different, offering some good banter between father and daughter that comes with that relationship. The story feels a little disjointed though, as the first part essentially sets up the heroes, the middle bridges the gap in between (and adds tragedy) and the last part brings the focus back on heroes. The timing seems a little off though, forcing the reader to think a little bit as to how the events have progressed.

Kamarga’s art is solid. Fans of the Scott Pilgrim art style will find some similarities between the two works, with the characters more cartoonish than superhero. There’s a lot more focus on characters in the book and less on settings and backgrounds, which works perfectly fine. The panel layout is fairly standard, with Kamarga relying on typical rectangles and grids to outline the action.

Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1 is an interesting first issue with a slightly off-kilter timeline. Superheroes are on full display, although it’s a little unclear as to why Jamie is such a hot property. He’s got the full, teenage angst thing going on, but by the looks of things, the series will take him down a dramatically different path when it’s all said and done.

Rocket Queen and the Wrench #1 is available now via comiXology.

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