Past and present collide with dire consequences in chapter four of Killer Groove, published by AfterShock Comics this week. Memories and desires fill the character’s minds as the various story threads begin to come together.
Ollie Masters (The Kitchen) tears away the rose tinted glasses and delves into the disturbing history of his creations, showcasing some of their worst memories and drawing parallels with their current situations.
Jackie is forced into a position of responsibility where the young Lucy is concerned. Left alone and hoping that the detective can help her, Lucy strikes out at the world. Elsewhere Jonny is getting twitchy as everything is quite on the hit-man front and as a result his musical inspiration is drying up.
Master’s doesn’t leave it too long, however, before injecting some action into the script and suddenly everything begins to fall apart.
The plot of this issue is broken into two clear sections. The first is the present day, from the point of view of the characters, where clever manipulation by Masters brings the cast together in surprising ways. The second element is a collection of flashbacks, touching on the characters past to shed light on their personalities.
Masters uses the two time lines in conjunction to bring out the most from a character development point of view. The flashbacks are cleverly placed for the reader to reflect on current plot lines and gain a deeper understanding of the journey leading to that particular moment. They help to broaden the character’s experiences and give the reader context for the choices that have been made.
There are some shocking moments in this issue and Masters builds up the tension, leading sedate scenes into acts of violence. Sometimes there is a slow build up in a scene, creating a level of anticipation where as other scenes have a sudden shock moment, hitting the reader after a page turn. Mixed with the emotional, and often cruel, flashbacks Masters has written an intense, packed issue with a lot for the reader to digest.
The Art of the Killer
Eoin Marron (Army of Darkness) adopts an expressionistic style for Killer Groove using heavy lines and stylised forms to bring out the characters. He focuses on expressions and stance, exaggerating the casts features for optimum effect. This approach is effective and gets the reader closer to the characters.
Marron is able to capture the essence of a character in a single panel and also express complex flows of narrative in abstract panel transitions. He juxtaposes similar forms to illustrate moods or actions, such as the jump from a bloodied baseball bat to a used needle.
Sometimes less is more so Marron empties panels of their backgrounds to emphasis the foreground creating a dynamism to some of the scenes. The pages’ flow effortlessly from domestic drama to criminal violence. However, the highlight of this issue are the flashback sequences. It is during these pages where Marron captures the emotional heart of Killer Groove.
Of course, the coloring by Jordie Bellaire (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Redlands) helps to focus the reader by putting certain characters into the centre of the scenes. A simple technique of coloring only one character in the panels illustrates the world revolving around them; the reader can see instantly who they should be following across the page. It also amplifies the actions around the character adding weight to the story. It is clear from these pages that these are memories, raw and still fresh in the character’s minds.
The unique lettering style adds another level to the storytelling. By using slight changes in color for the speech balloons, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is able to portray subtle fluctuations in the tone of the speech. The character’s voices appear to range from whispers to screams, all because of the alteration to the balloons the text is placed in.
Like any good thriller approaching the end game, Killer Groove slowly draws the characters together, merging their lives in disturbing ways. Masters brings out the best, and worst, in his cast this issue and there are moments that will make your heart stop for a beat.
The pacing of the narrative is beautifully handled and the art work leads the reader through the complex personalities. The layers are still being stacked but the whole picture is finally taking shape, ready for the big finale next month.
Each issue of Killer Groove has something to offer the reader. It is riveting and shocking in equal measure, moving away from the glitz of the music business and instead focusing on the violent underbelly of society where people are just trying to survive.