Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Alasdair Stuart, Blue, DJ Doctor Death Defying, Draculoid, Fabulous Killyjoys, Red, S\C\A\R\E\C\R\O\W, The Girl, True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Ultra Vs
‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’
Script by Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Art by Becky Cloonan
Colours by Dan Jackson
Letters by Nate Piekos of Flambot
Cover by Becky Cloonan
Published by Dark Horse
A young girl and her cat unzip their body bag in the middle of the Californian desert and start walking. She meets a group of people who recognize her for who she really is and together they try and save a pair of students from being turned into Draculoids, masked, gun-toting lunatics in the service of Battery City. Meanwhile, an artificial prostitute ventures out to buy a battery pack for her lover and at The Nest, the party that never ends is about to be crashed.
Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance, has been learning his way around comics for several years now, with his highly regarded Umbrella Academy title one of the best comic debuts I’ve ever seen. This is a different kind of project though, the sequel to the album it shares a name with and the final act of The Girl’s story, seen previously in two videos.
Fans of the album are going to be in post-apocalyptic Californian heaven. The comic is absolutely in keeping with its style and reads like the continuation of the story begun there. The Girl, relics from the Killjoys, DJ Doctor Death Defying and Battery City all make appearances and there’s the same faded, punky grandeur to the plot. It’s added to by the fact that time has passed and The Girl is now, largely, alone. She and her cat are taken in by the Ultra V’s, fans of the Killjoys and sees them try and emulate their idols and fail. Or succeed, if glorious death was one of the things they were emulating. She starts the issue alone and she ends it alone, aside of course, from the Cat and there’s a fragile, feverish air to the book as a result. This is a world where life is cheap and death is a fashion statement and it’s cold in a way very few other series ever manage. It’s a broken world and it’s going to get broken again and the Girl will be right in the middle of it when it does.
Way and Simon’s script balances that increasing sense of fabulous dread with moments of truly beautiful visual invention. For example, whilst the Draculoids start off as an Allred-ian absurdity, by the time you see what they see they’ve become tragic as well as horrifying. This is fiercely clever, inventive writing that touches on everything from Battle of the Planets to the work of Grant Morrison (And yes he makes a guest appearance of sorts too) to create a story that’s truly unique.
Becky Cloonan is an artist who can genuinely do no wrong and here she turns in some of her best work to date. Her character work is pitch perfect, especially on The Girl and the contrast between the clean, cold lines of the city and the slightly frantic, stylised character work of the desert is really well handled. Dan Jackson’s colours are as impressive, painting each location with a distinctive palette and using subtle shifts in colour to lead your eye around the page. Nate Piekos’ lettering keeps pace with it without missing a beat and he nails not only the unique rhythm of Doctor Death’s speech pattern but the constant captions with subtlety and style.
Fans would have bought this regardless of quality but Way already has a reputation as a writer who doesn’t short-change his audience. This is a searingly confident opening issue in what looks to be both a capstone to My Chemical Romance and the next stage in Way’s career. Make some noise. It deserves it.
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