Review: Keep on Running in ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem’ #2 by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon

Cover artwork by Becky Cloonan, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

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The second issue of Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem has officially hit shelves!

Though the name may sound familiar, National Anthem is separate from the post-apocalyptic California adventure that was introduced in My Chemical Romance’s album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and later continued in a 2013 comic miniseries. Before Party Poison, Fun Ghoul, Jet Star, and Kobra Kid … there was Mike Milligram, the original Killjoy. Way and Simon began fleshing out the original ideas for this world in 2008, but their plans fizzled out and the story eventually morphed into Danger Days. However, over a decade later, Way and Simon have finally brought Mike Milligram’s story to life.

In issue #1, we met the teenage exterminators that operated in the Unseen in the 90s, the Fabulous Killjoys — Mike Milligram, Kyle 100%, Animax, Red, and Blue. In the aftermath of the Analog Wars, the A.K.A.s — including the Killjoys — were decommissioned so that they could forget the danger they had faced and instead be subjected to boring, normal lives. Skipping ahead to the 2000s, Mike Milligram finally regains his memories and realizes that the threats from the Unseen have returned. He dusts off the Trans Am and hits the road to regroup with his temporarily-forgotten friends.

Warning: Spoilers for issue #2 below!

Issue #2 of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem is just as enjoyable, if not even better, than the first. Whereas issue #1 laid out the initial groundwork to introduce us to our main characters, we have now begun to jump into more action and suspense as Way and Simon actively begin to peel back the layers of mystery surrounding the world of the Killjoys.

The opening pages of this issue briefly jump back to the 90s and drop an interesting tidbit of information — Blue/Maria was pregnant but she chose to utilize an evacuation process that allowed her to “pause” the pregnancy indefinitely, with the option to “continue” at a later date — either naturally or through other means. She chose not to share this information with Mike, knowing he wasn’t ready to be a father.

Later, we pick back up with Mike Milligram’s mission to reconnect with the rest of the missing Killjoys in the 2000s. He manages to find two of his old friends, Red (who now goes by Sofia) and Animax (who goes by Maxwell). Sofia is responsible for a young boy named Jaime, who is supposedly her cousin’s son. However, considering the casual information drop at the beginning of the issue, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sofia isn’t being entirely honest about who Jaime is — and Mike would be none the wiser. Mike has already proven himself to be a captivating and likeable main character throughout these two issues, and adding this potential dynamic into his life would prove to be an interesting twist.

Though there are some similarities between National Anthem and the world of Danger Days, this series easily manages to hold its own between its characters, the story, and the world-building, and it doesn’t feel repetitive. It has an edge to it, the second issue easily latching on to the energy and momentum of the first. There’s a certain precision that’s necessary in comic book storytelling, because there’s very limited time and space to convey something that readers will both connect with and also understand, and Way and Simon have really nailed it here. National Anthem is complex and fascinating enough to draw readers in, but not so convoluted that readers subsequently get lost afterward. This is a compelling series with a unique, witty, and sharp premise that deserves recognition.

Artist Leonardo Romero and colorist Jordie Bellaire have outdone themselves once again with another aesthetically pleasing issue; their styles combined truly do National Anthem justice. There’s quite a bit of action and fighting throughout the course of issue #2, and the illustrations and coloring pack the extra punch that makes this comic series a home run. The car chase scene in particular is excellent, because you can almost feel the speed and the heat as the Trans Am tears down the highway. Whereas we most often rely on the narration within comics to walk us through the story (and what a gripping story this is already), flipping through National Anthem just for the artwork alone is an incredibly gratifying experience in itself.

Based on the first two issues thus far, it appears that readers will definitely be in for a ride for the remainder of the series. Way and Simon have planted seeds of hints and questions throughout, building up a crescendo of anticipation for what’s to come. See the synopsis for issue #3 below, where it appears that we’ll likely see the return of Kyle 100%:

After finding their final missing member, the reassembled Killjoys exterminating team have a shootout with an enemy gang and discover a bizarre authoritarian scheme from their corporate adversaries.

Issue #3 of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem will arrive on shelves on December 9.

Lindsey

Written by

Lindsey joined the Nerds and Beyond team in 2018. She has spent a large portion of her life dedicated to her first love, photography. When she's not behind the camera, you can find her reading books and comics and dabbling in creative writing. Lindsey’s favourite fandoms are Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel. You can find her on Twitter at @lindyysolo. Contact: directors@nerdsandbeyond.com

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