Book Review: Gerard Way and Shaun Simon's The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

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Back in 2010 (and now I feel old), My Chemical Romance released their final studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I'd call it a concept album of sorts, revolving around a group of outsiders called the 'Killjoys' in a 2019 post-apocalyptic North America. It wasn't really like anything they'd released before, but I still absolutely adored it, and even until recently I've found myself absorbed in the world that album and its music videos created. Party Poison, Fun Ghoul, Jet Star, and Kobra Kid (portrayed by the four remaining members of the band) set out to take down an organisation (Better Living Industries, or BL/ind) who control the nation. Their 'draculoids' from the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W unit served as the physical embodiment of the organisation, headed in the videos mainly by Korse, bizarrely portrayed by the comic book writer Grant Morrison. It's the bald head that does it.

As you can see, in the space of an album and two music videos, a vast world with characters and lore was created, and there was never enough for me. The knowledge that there was a comic book series released by Gerard Way (the lead singer for those of you not in the know) in 2013 to accompany the album and finish off the story was always in the back of my mind, but was something I quickly forgot about. Fast-forward to 2015, me rediscovering my love for this album, the world of the videos, and re-learning about this comic series. Of course I bought it straight away. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys tells the last part of the story of the 'Killjoys' who (spoilers) die in the music video for SING, leaving 'the girl' (seen in both videos) to continue on her quest to take down BL/ind. This may be a bit complicated for those not familiar with the album, but it's worth reading about. So there's me, excited to finally get an ending to this saga, whilst learning even more about this world Gerard and the band created...

...and oh lord, was I disappointed.

I will begin with what I enjoyed about this trade paperback of the comic series. I enjoyed the characterisation of 'the girl', who was as kickass and independent as I wanted her to be. She became a real character in the comics and did a brilliant job at carrying the legacy of the 'Killjoys' where others in the book failed. I also enjoyed the bright, garish art style that Becky Cloonan brought to the story, perfectly matching what had been seen before in the videos. Finally, I liked getting to see the insides of Battery City, which is basically the hub of all of the bad things going on with BL/ind and the poverty that they create. There was definitely a lot more on the side of the antagonists than previously seen, which made me very happy, as I really enjoyed Korse as a character.

I am happy this comic series exists, don't get me wrong, but here's where it fell down.

This comic series could not stand alone. If you haven't listened to the album and seen the videos, the whole story would go straight over your head. This series, unfortunately, appears to be for fans only, and only those who seek closure. We're given an acceptable ending to something that didn't really need an ending. We're not given what I was looking for the most, which was more background on the world. When just the album and videos existed, I craved more and marveled at how such a vast world had been created in such a small space. Now I've read the comic, I almost feel I would have preferred to have made up the rest myself and carried on living without being told anything new. It just falls a bit flat and the whole thing is very uneventful.

I'm struggling to order my thoughts about this, hence why this review has been such a non-review and more like a mini-cryfest (although I did still give it three stars on Goodreads, so it wasn't that bad). That aside, I'm still excited to pick up more of Way's comic endeavors, namely The Umbrella Academy, which is an ongoing series still.

So if I were you, and I hadn't experienced this world yet, just watch the two videos below. It's all you need.

M x

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