Gerard Way returns to comics bringing a sequel of sorts to the final My Chemical Romance album…and it’s not the end of the world.
The nature of comic geekery is such that is rarely allows interlopers into its fold. Outsiders are often seen as jumping on the bandwagon, and heaven forfend a celebrity known for something other than funnybooks should be allowed to try their hand at it. Gerard Way, front man of emo heartthrobs My Chemical Romance, bucked the trend several years ago when his book The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite won the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series.
Returning to comics for the first time in half a decade, Way returns not to his Umbrella Academy world, but one he created for My Chemical Romance’s final album, a concept piece called Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Set in an apocalyptic wasteland, The Killjoys are a band of outlaws who fought the corporation Better Living Industries (BL/ind.) and its “Draculoids”. Making the ultimate sacrifice to protect “The Girl” they believed would save them all, the first issue picks up over a decade after the album’s closure, with The Girl on the road with her black cat. As she joins a group of masked vigilantes that litter the highways and byways of the wasteland, the ubiquitous presence of BLI watches their every move.
Way spends much of this issue setting up the environment, and that’s just fine. It’s a familiar world in many ways, taking pieces of sci fi and other post apocalyptic nightmares from Mad Max through Judge Dredd and mixing them up for a satisfying piece of world-building. The pirate radio narration from a DJ named Dr. Death Defying will be familiar to fans of the original record, and there’s a hint of Angry Bob from Hardware (based on the 2000 AD strip Shok!). Similarly, the city scenes feature android ‘pleasure models’ that aren’t a million miles away from Blade Runner. A pot pourri it might be, but so far Way has chosen just enough of the right elements so as not to overwhelm us with their scent.
Becky Cloonan is in her element on art duties, taking a leaf out of her own East Coast Rising styles for this punk rock apocalypse. Presenting a set of youths who actually look and act their age, Cloonan is instrumental in bringing this world to life. There’s a distinctive stylistic difference between the neon industrial look of the city, reminiscent once again of Blade Runner, and the desolate danger zone of the outside world. Yet they still feel as though they are part of the same world, thanks in part to Dan Jackson’s excellent colours that resist the temptation to go over the top and instead provide an understated riff on the end times.
Whether you are a fan of Way’s comic work or anxious to see more from the world of My Chemical Romance, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is easy to recommended. Way doesn’t rely on knowledge of either to introduce us to his vision of the future, and Way and Cloonan are a match made in punk rock heaven. We look forward to seeing this series unfurl and provide more answers as to the nature of this landscape.
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