The accomplished duo of writers Gerard Way (Umbrella Academy, Doom Patrol) and Shaun Simon (Collapser) and artist Leonardo Romero return for a sonic boom of a second issue of “The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem.” This chapter is carried by Way and Simon’s usual signature sharp but frenetic storytelling, punctuated with rad-as-hell action sequences and breakneck pacing. With phenomenal colors from Jordie Bellaire and standout lettering from Nate Piekos, this second chapter of “National Anthem” is a ride that must be taken.
“A violent, inhuman police force is hot on Killjoys leader Mike Miligram’s trail as he speeds down the highway on his way to recruit his brainwashed team. One member has become an unassuming middle school teacher, and begins to find strange evidence of how far their enemy’s reach is and their control on reality.”
Writing & Plot
Much like all of Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s work, True Lives: National Anthem” #2 is a well-oiled machine that dispenses entropy, but hones it to a precise science. Much like Way’s work on Doom Patrol, there’s an insane amount of story packed into the script of this comic, but it never loses its momentum or feels rushed for time. The pacing is lightning fast, and this is due to the fact that there is so much happening on every turn of the page. From wicked car vs. car road battles to ray gun shootouts and to massive global conspiracies, this issue is thrilling and crazy-fun from start to finish. The delivery of this issue is also more streamlined than that of the last, allowing Way and Simon to flex their talent at writing a chapter that focuses more on simply advancing a point a to point b chapter rather than delivering mind-boggling plot twists and jumping through time. Each of the primary characters in “National Anthem” is very much their own person, with engaging personalities and stories that make them all interesting to read about. As I discussed in my review for the first issue, Way is an unapologetically massive fan of Grant Morrison, and is hugely influenced by the Scottish legend’s writing style. This fact is very apparent in how Gerard writes this comic, as it does feel an awful lot like a spin-off of The Invisibles. However since this particular issue is so much fun, I’m inclined to overlook that fact.
While a good script sets the pace of a comic story, the real direction is crafted by the penciler. This series is gifted with the insanely talented Leonardo Romero, whose pencils capture the boundless energy of “True Lives: National Anthem” #2 while also providing the breakneck yet flawless pacing of this chapter. Romero’s style, which is reminiscent of Silver Age pop art with modern sensibilities, captures the satirical and weird details of the aesthetic all the comic’s creators are striving for. The character models and environments all look clean and crisp, with the artsy-punk designs of the Killjoys themselves standing out like a flare in the dead of night. A massive chunk of this comic’s atmosphere and aesthetic goes to the colors of Jordie Bellaire. The now veteran colorist makes use of that classic 50’s dotted color style, punctuated with the bright neons of the Killjoys and their nonhuman foes. The lettering from Nate Piekos uses a sort of scratchy, not fully-refined font that looks like most other fonts you’ve seen until close examination. The effect lettering blends in with the action of the book, and overall stands out while simultaneously blending in with the tone of the comic. This is as fantastic a book just to look at as it is to read and experience.
“The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem” #2 is a bombastic hurricane of a comic book. Where the first issue laid the tonal groundwork and introduced the central concept, this issue really fleshes out the sharp and energetic style this series will likely have going forward. The script from Gerard Way and Shaun Simon is wicked smart and packs tons of story and characterization into the span of a comic book while still feeling streamlined. The visuals of Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire are a stunning combination of retro and contemporary styles as well as a marvel of fast-faced visual direction. This is one of the most outright ass-kicking single comic issues to come out this year, and you owe it to yourself to pick it up when it arrives at your local comic shop on 11/11!