When I first heard about The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, I was intrigued. I’ll be honest, I have no great admiration for My Chemical Romance, but I found Gerard Way’s series Umbrella Academy entertaining. Killjoys has a sound premise. There once was a band name The Killjoys, who waged war against the BLI, a massive corporation who takes away individuality in the megalopolis Battery City. The Killjoys ran with a little girl they thought to be a messiah. A battle was fought, the Killjoys died, the little girl lived.
So here we are, in the world of the Killjoys. On one side is the stark, bland and pro-conformity Battery City; on the other are the Ultra V’s, a group of renegade punk teenagers who worship the Killjoys and look to destroy their oppressors. The series, presented by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, takes place years after the Killjoys died. We meet up with the little girl, now a teenager moving across the wastelands. She runs into the Ultra V’s as they skirmish with an assassination squad known as the Draculoids. Meanwhile, in Battery City, we get to meet the leader of of BLI and her shock troops. In a nod to Blade Runner, Way and Simon also present sex-droids. Hot chick robots that dress like punk kids, ala Tank Girl.
Reading this first issue a few times, I’m left feeling that those who love this must be fans of the band and the album Danger Days, which Killjoys is loosely based on. I say that because, not being a fan of the band, I found Killjoys to be disjointed and cliché, pulling touchstones from any number of classic sci-fi themes. The giant, evil corporation represented by a large city? The rebel punks who live out in the wastelands? The unwitting messiah? The tough gang leader who buries his feelings beneath layers of harsh words? Off the top of my head, I think of Judge Dredd, The Road Warrior, The Matrix and The Warriors. Where, exactly, is the brazen originality here?
More importantly, why is this story so disjointed? The beats are off, the pacing is uneven, and so much information is thrown at you all at once it becomes annoying to disseminate it. The only thing holding this story together is the monologue of hip DJ lingo buzzing through a radio. As the story grinds to a close, you’re left with nobody to care about. Way and Simon are so interested in throwing concepts at you that they never set up characters. Spare us some of the cool sci-fi details, and focus on the people central to the story. On a personal note, I would like to call an international moratorium on the idea that wasteland rebels must dress like “punks,” complete with Mohawks and colored hair. Who, exactly, takes care of all these costumes and hairstyles in a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Thank god leather jackets, tight jeans, bullet belts and jewelry is in great abundance in the outer rim.
Becky Cloonan handles the art and, as usual, I really don’t care for her style. Obviously, she can draw, but her cartoony crash between Ralph Bakshi and Scott Pilgrim just lays on the page. Something like Killjoys, with its ominous, dystopian ideal, needs art that has some weight to it, some darkness. Everything with Cloonan is bright and colorful, even the perfect lines and angles that make up Battery City have no real punch to them. The Ultra V’s are all easy caricatures, manga-inspired heroes with no individuality to them outside of their haircuts.
The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys is like the emperor’s new clothes. Lots of cool, and lots of shiny, but with very little else backing it up.
(2 Story, 2 Art)