Or – “It’s all Righteous, Baby!   Ah-HUH!”

Sadly, I no longer remember what the real Elvis Presley sounds like.  In my head I hear a composite of Rob Schneider, Bruce Campbell, and voice artist Jeff Bennet as Johnny Bravo.  That said, this isn’t a story about Elvis, and it isn’t your average comics experience…  What exactly IS it?  Click the jump, mah friend, an’ let th’ Kingamajorspoilers tell y’all about it.  Uh huh HUH!

King! #1
Story by Thomas Hall
Art & Letters By Daniel Bradford
Published by Blacklist Studios

Previously, on King!:  Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family at the age of 13.  He began his career there in 1954 when Sun Records owner Sam Phillips saw in Presley the means to realize his ambition.  Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel”, released in January 1956, was a number one hit.  He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records.  Conscripted into military service in 1958, Presley relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. 

He staged few concerts, however, and, guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided.  In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours.  In 1973, Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers.  Prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 at the age of 42.  Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture.  He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues.  He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music.  Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36.  He has been inducted into four music halls of fame.  This is not his story…

We open somewhere in the desert, as a delivery boy knocks at a dilapidated hacienda door.  The angry man within is enraged at being awoken at the unholy hour of 2:45 p.m., and takes possession of an unusual package.  The delivery boy complains that he got no tip, only to have his scooter take a large caliber bullet at short range.  Heh…  You had me at 2:45 p.m.  The art has the deep blacks and shadowed areas that I associate with Mike Mignola, without being a direct lft of his style, and there’s a nice sequence wherein King opens the box to find a still-beating heart!  It grows legs, and things get wacky as someone or something requests the man’s services and explains that a zombie apocalypse is open us.  (Of course, XXXombies proved that a couple of years ago…)  We get a cool shot of King doing his patented Bad-Ass Power Walk to… the bus stop.  Heh.

The story gets moving from this point, with monsters, peanut butter and banana burritos and a few surprises along the way, and is a remarkably enjoyable ride.  The Mignola influence in the art leads to the obvious Hellboy comparisons, but aside from a burly guy taking on monsters, we’re on a completely different ride here.  Comedy is always difficult, but this book pulls it off admirably, and even surprises me a time or two along the way.  A decade or so ago, I became an aficionado of what I refer to as “disposable fiction,” the ephemera that most people ignore about popular culture:  Professional wrestling, music videos, kung fu and exploitation flicks of the 70’s, and even comic books.  This book exists at the center of that Venn Diagram, and it’s a nice read indeed.  I’ll be watching for more appearances of Mr. King, whose life and times seem rife for additional adventures.  King! #1 is a mighty fine piece o’ work, and earns a highly impressive 4 out of 5 stars.  King! proves that comics can still be fun in the era of deconstruction, and makes me want peanut butter and banana sammiches.  Thank ya…  Thankyaverramuch.

(King! #1 goes on sale August 16th, 2010, the 33rd anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Books like this make me miss The Defenders, Ambush Bug and the “fun” comics of my youth.  What fun reads do you miss the most?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. August 6, 2010 at 5:41 am — Reply

    Concept-wise, did you see much overlap with this and Bubba Ho-tep?

    I miss the Gerry Conway Firestorm. Oh, and the first couple runs of Damage Control.

  2. August 7, 2010 at 12:17 am — Reply

    Mmm… Not as much as you might think. Obviously, there’s some similarities, but Mr. King isn’t ever specifically identified as being or not being Elvis, and he does have a mighty big gun. :)

  3. Damascus
    September 10, 2010 at 1:06 am — Reply

    Most of the comics I read growing up were light on serious topics and heavy on corny jokes and goofiness. It’s what my parents got me, that and it is what me as a small kid would grab out of the quarter bins. I enjoyed reading the Alf comics, Mighty Mouse, Real Ghostbusters, I even had all the Beavis and Butthead comics. Oh, I also had a copy of the Married with Children comic where the cover was a reimagining of the classic Fantastic Four first issue, I used to like stupid stuff like that.

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