Review

Killapalooza #1

22nd May 2009 | by | No Comments

You can tell a lot about a comic by how it tends to handle the issue of “characters who you know should be swearing talking in a book or imprint that doesn’t allow swearing”. For the most part, intelligent writers are capable of simply working around it – or, in the odd case, they have a bit of fun with it, such as Garth Ennis’ use of “motherlovin'” in Hitman free seed movie download speed download free , or Warren Ellis’ Nextwave giving a character an unguessably-obscene name. And then you get comics such as Jeph Loeb’s Hulk that somehow think it’s big and clever to shoehorn vast amounts of poorly-disguised swearing into a title for which it’s simply not appropriate. I should point out that I have absolutely no problem with a good swear (quite the opposite, in fact) – simply with the lack of respect shown for the publisher and the reader when filling a non-Vertigo (or equivalent) book with the stuff. And it happens to such an extent in Killapalooza that it starts to feel exemplary of a fundamental deficiency of any sort of imagination or intelligence. And what do you know? That proves to be exactly what it is.

Because as an exercise in missing the point entirely, this is the strongest example I’ve seen in comics for some time. Okay, so it’s supposed to be a big, dumb, over-the-top, high-concept violent action title. I get that. A market for such things exists, and if done well, they can be enjoyable and entertaining comics. But not everybody is Mark Millar (hell, a lot of the time even Mark Millar isn’t Mark Millar), and if you’re going to do this sort of thing, there’s got to be some level of wit behind it. And being smart-arsed and thinking you’re funny isn’t the same as wit. So it’s not even as if I have a problem with the book’s premise – more that it’s so relentlessly stupid download aenigma that the book’s premise is even spelled out in dialogue dadnapped free by one of the characters. Or that said premise – not, inherently, a bad high-concept hook – is justified with the most flimsy of rationales (and in the shape of “Your boozing, bingeing and whoring tabs have always been bigger than the US deficit”, one of the worst lines of dialogue I’ve read in some time). Or that all the characters are unlikeable arseholes, but without even the faintest glimmer of cocky charm that can make unlikeable arseholes worth reading about.

There’s just… there’s no point to this. It glorifies in violence and fake-swearing and talk of shagging and outdated references to goths (oh, and while we’re at it – “Genghis Audrey”? OH VERY CLEVER I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE) and emo bands, but forgets that for a comic (or indeed any form of fiction) to be compelling, it needs either a point or a plot. It’s an action book without any action (beyond a cliched and juddering opening sequence that lasts all of a couple of pages), and a satire without any jokes. The level of sloppiness on show even extends to nicking Phonogram krippendorf s tribe divx ‘s gag of crediting the writer and artist as “Lyrics” and “Music” before failing to extend the metaphor properly and simply crediting others as “Letters” and “Colors”. Oh, and while this is a more general personal gripe based on the difference between American and British English, I find it hard to get behind a book that uses singular verbs when referring to bands (“The Clap is officially dead…”).

Coupled with art by Trevor Hairsine that is both horrendously ill-suited to the attempted style on display and which looks like it’s been knocked out in a lunch break (I’m not the artist’s biggest fan, but he’s capable of solid work, and if you compare this to the work he did on Wisdom it’s frankly laughable), and some incredibly unclear storytelling, the overall feel is of a shoddy package, bashed out in order to grab some of the market that’s swarmed over the zany OTT likes of Kick-Ass and Wanted but which seems happy to revel in being quite insultingly knuckle-headed. It’s hard to see who it’s meant to appeal to – the satire is so unsubtle, and has been done so often before, that it can’t appeal to people looking for good satire; and it stops so far short of being entertainingly shlock-violent that it’ll never grab the Millar/Ennis fans – and frankly, when a book tells you in its first panel that some dialogue is “Translated from a language you don’t speak or read, so shut up”, it gives such an immediate sense of the level of respect the thing’s affording you that you might as well give it the same and ignore it entirely.