A lot can be said for patience in reading things that are serialized rather than collected. When things are done well in serialized format, confusion in one part can turn into something substantial the next time around. My own problems with the whip-fast fractured in medias res first part of Killjoys—which, in the creators defense, leaves world building difficult due to a limited space—was a feeling of disconnectedness and confusion, like reading something that was meant for someone else. Issue #2, however, is much more accessible and illuminates some truly sweet, sad, and troubling character moments laced with bigger questions while dropping nuggets of narrative intrigue to push the reader onward.
I had not read nor listened to any work by Gerard Way prior to the first issue of this series. Perhaps being able to put some kind of authorial context to the work may be helpful in my understanding of his art, but I just never got around to Umbrella Academy nor have found time for the band he plays in (or played maybe? Perhaps some folks on the boards that are fans of his can fill in the gaps for me) with. My own ignorance aside, the nice moments Way and Shaun Simon unfold in this second issue, moving away from the strange vibe in the first issue of being a bit too homage to the underground cult film The Warriors, or really most of that strange NYC post-apocalyptic 1970s and 1980s film genre, are plentiful. Some messianic themes aside in the story, this installment of Killjoys places the reader with some interesting conflicts to chew over. Some of the conflicts range from questioning societal norms surrounding violence (whether it is ever justified and who justifies it?) to the complications of identity (who are we within a society and are we truly happy?).
With the second issue, perhaps naturally, I feel more comfortable with the artwork of Becky Cloonan and at times strangely subdued day glo colors of Dan Jackson. Cloonan designs characters that are distinct yet not overwhelming, working in a slightly cartoon-ish way in some facial expressions and gesticulations but always dials it back to give more genuine expressive moments of thought, distress, and surprise. With a trio of indie books on every reviewers must read list of 2013, Cloonan is already one of the most widely discussed artist of the year, and as a veteran having worked with a variety of top selling scribes including Brian Wood, whose Demo and recent work on Conan is in my must read file, her accolades are hard earned and well deserved. Perhaps it is serendipitous in a universal sense that Killjoys has dropped at this time to give a larger exposure for Cloonan’s work.
The function of the second part of a multi-part story should not only build upon the first, but continue to propel the reader forward. This second issue of Killjoys does that and provides a little bit more cerebral topics to mull over if one chooses to do so.