The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
The covers are what drew me to The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Appealing character designs with rich hues and a compelling look pressed me to read this series every time I walked into my local comic book shop.
I was already familiar with writer Gerard Way’s work, having read his previous series The Umbrella Academy, the second volume of which is one of my favorite comics. So I bought the book blind (or BL/ind, as it were).
Centering around the the sole survivor of the original Killjoys – rebels who fought against the tyrannical Better Living Industries (BL/ind) – the comic depicts the various narratives of struggle amid the corporate wasteland. Porno bots Red and Blue struggle to eek out an existence in Battery City (BL/ind’s headquarters), as does BL/ind assassin Krose. And The Girl, who the Killjoys laid down their lives to protect, must search within herself to find out how to take down Better Living Industries once and for all.
What drew me to Becky Cloonan’s art was the rich line work and tinge of anime in the character designs of the covers. Her art is a delight, brimming with color and clarity that distills the action and characterization effectively.
The story itself is a bit of a colorful mess, brimming with ideas and concepts of this comic book world while not having much space to fully express them. Doing a little research revealed why this is. For while I vaguely knew Gerard Way was also in the band My Chemical Romance, I only recently knew that this comic series was a sequel to their final album.
To be clear, the work does stand on its own, effectively world building without relying on previous media to fill in the gaps. Killjoys has some excellent examples of “show, don’t tell” (Draculoid masks being a good example), though does host a few segments of exposition in the beginning that make wading through the first chapter a little challenging. Once the groundwork is laid down however, the comic excels in its middle portions, balancing the different story lines as each narrative struggles with their oppressors. While I find The Girl’s arc disappointing, there’s enough surrounding it to keep the comic’s momentum going.
As a limited series (6 comic issues, plus a free comic book day special), it’s almost frustratingly short. The creators make such a compelling world full of cool concepts (cool looking ray blasters! Soul-sucking vampire masks!) that I wish there was more time not only explore the world and its characters. While each arc is completed with varying levels of satisfaction, having a longer series would allow writers Way and Shaun Simon more time to explore characters deeper. But as the end of a longer narrative, Kiiljoys has the burden tying up the loose ends in a meaningful way rather than the ability to lengthily explore. This isn’t a flaw, but rather an unfortunate consequence as the final compelling chapters leaving its audience wanting more.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I first read this book, but I certainly enjoyed it. There’s plenty of good in Killjoys, a quick and vibrant read worthy of your time.