Marlowe Lewis returns for a weekend look at Killapalooza #2.

Killa_2cover.jpgA world famous rock band called ‘The Clap’ are also secretly a super-powered squad of first rate, highly paid assassins, who always successfully eliminate their targets. While scoping out the killing ground of their next hit they are attacked in public by a band of meta-powered ninjas and are forced to defend themselves without overtly revealing their own talents. After the unsatisfying conclusion of the battle the team are forced to confront the fact that there may be another super group of liquidators who may be looking to move up the league table by removing all other competitors from the game. The smart thing to do would be to go to ground and wait for their opponents to come to them but because they have very public personas whose absence would be quickly noticed, they are forced to go into attack mode and this decision leads to a potentially explosive cliff-hanger.

Suppose somebody planned to write and illustrate a new superhero comic based on the classic clichés of the rock music industry. What absolute essential elements would they need to include? Well, the genre is over fifty years old and in that time we have had several mega global success stories from the thousands of hopeful acts who have tried to capture our attention and cash. These intrepid rock gods have blazed the trail and thankfully left some signposts along their golden path for others potential star wanabee’s to follow in their wake.

These are:

Give the band a ridiculous name: — Check
When you choose a moniker like ‘The Clap’ for the group then you’re totally covered. It’s remarkably silly but it also has that all important sexual innuendo sub-textual hook that the teenage fans will feel slightly rebellious talking about with all their friends.

Give the band members ridiculous names: — Check
The ones in this book are called – Axe, Amp, Ivory, Skin and I kid you not — Ass — so everything’s just peachy on that front as well and for good measure even the bands manager has his own amazing appellation. He’s called Slide and is the personification of the cool, level headed, power broker, Tom Parker type who usually has the answer to absolutely everything — except this time he doesn’t have a clue about who is trying to kill them — which is a bit of a serious lapse on his part but even the good Colonel must have had his off days.

The rooftop performance: — Check
Well there is a scene where the band is talking about recent events, which is set on a raised balcony at the U.N building. It’s not exactly the farewell Moptop performance at the Apple records building in London, but its close enough.

A band member having kinky sex with a groupie: — Check
Yeah it’s in all there. With handcuffs and everything.

The big battle involving all the band members: — Check
Well there are several strong contenders for this particular honour but the frontrunner is the humongous food fight that everyone gets involved with during the sponsors dinner party. Instead of the usual fracas between superhero and supervillain, we have instead a battle royal that involves every strange musical group who are attending the benefit concert. Using potentially deadly pieces of poultry, fish and fruit, the combatants wreck complete havoc on their opponents whilst incurring a massive dry cleaning bill into the bargain.

Smashing up the hotel room: — Check
Well most rock bands don’t go to the lengths of using C4 to blow a human sized hole into a neighbouring room with the intention of violently killing everyone inside, (apart from perhaps Keith Moon on one of particularly manic days) but I suppose you could say that it was necessary because it was their enemies base of operations and the room did end up in a total disarray, so maybe the messy ends justified the means.

Now, at this point, I must admit I have a confession to make. I did try to find in this issue, relevant examples of all those other great rock music tropes:– i.e. –  the guitar riff, smashing up your instruments, the drumstick spin, the power ballad, the concept album, the dead band member, the music video, the album of cover songs from their own personal musical heroes, the clothing line designed by one of the band, the perfume created by one of the band, the fans holding up cigarette lighters during the performance — but I failed miserably to do so. Perhaps that’s an exercise that other readers of this book could undertake. They could use the comments section in here to point them all out to me and anyway this is only the second issue of the title, so there are still plenty of potential panels left yet to fit the rest of them all in.

But now we come to the most important of all the clichés and it’s the one that any serious performer ignores at their peril. It is of course!

Always leave them wanting more:
In this particular category I am afraid that the only kind of Check that the creative team get is the one that they have already presumably received from Wildstorm comics, which if they were really smart they would have cashed as quickly as their local banking system allowed.

Trevor Hairsine can draw very well. I know this for a fact because I have seen fine examples of his talent in other periodicals, most notably in Clas$$war, that persuaded me that this was an artist to keep an eye on. However I here I feel that he is hampered by the scripts over emphasis on talking head scenes. This book is extremely exposition heavy which means that Mr Hairsine ends up drafting a lot of chattering craniums. When he is finally given an action scene to illustrate he grabs it with the relish that Dracula must have felt when he was supplied with a fresh young female victim. I don’t believe that it’s an accident that his representation of the ninja attack sequence is a double page spread and part of the food fight is depicted in an oversized panel page. Obviously Trevor was thirsting for some real superhero action to draw and seized onto these scenes as he realised that these were the only opportunities he was going to get.

Adam Beechen began his writing career on children’s comics and cartoon series and it is still really obvious to the naked eye that he hasn’t made much artistic progress since that time. He must have learned his scriptwriting skills at the Harpo Marx School of Dialogue because he has no earthly clue about how to write convincing adult human dialogue. The extremely peculiar story concept on offer here is obviously the driving force behind how the plot develops but almost every page is bogged down with tedious talking sequences and by the time the reader does finally reach some action they are beyond caring anyway because all of the willing suspension of disbelief has been sucked out of them.

I give this sorry excuse for a comic book only one star and that’s only because of Mr Hairsine’s art.



About Author

Marlowe Lewis is old. I mean really, really old. So old in fact, that the first ever sequential art that he ever saw was when his lifelong friend in their small clan began painting bison on the cave walls. This was a true turning point in his life. Firstly, he was immediately and irrevocably hooked on the visual arts, and secondly he discovered another use for dried bison dung. Marlowe Lewis is British. This is not an apology.

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