Saturday, July 31, 2021

Review: The Truth Comes Out in ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem’ #4 by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon

The fourth issue of Gerard Way and Shaun Simon’s The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem has arrived!

National Anthem follows the story of the Fabulous Killjoys — Mike Milligram, Kara (Kyle 100%), Animax, Red, and Blue. Back in the 90s, this group of teenage exterminators operated in the Unseen, helping to save reality as we know it. In the wake of the Analog Wars, the Killjoys and the rest of the A.K.A.s were decommissioned; their memories were wiped completely and they went on to live fairly normal (and, quite frankly, boring) lives. Fast forward to the 2000s — Mike suddenly regains both his memories and his second sight, and he realizes that the threats they worked so hard to keep at bay in the Unseen have unfortunately returned.

In issue #3, Mike, Sofia, Maxwell, and Jaime managed to track down their last missing team member, Kara. Though she was initially against the idea of joining back up with the Killjoys, a targeted attack led her to change her mind. In the final moments of the issue, the crew took off in the Trans Am with Kara bleeding out on the front seat.

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Warning: Spoilers for issue #4 below!

Things are heating up in the fourth issue of National Anthem as the Killjoys edge closer to the final showdown. Thankfully they were able to make it to the Witch in the desert this time around to save Kara, even if they weren’t so lucky back in the 90s with Blue. The Killjoys are going to need all the help they can get considering what they’re up against, and they can’t afford to lose someone else now that they’re back in action.

It’s a relief to say that Mike Milligram and Jaime finally know that they’re father and son. And Maria’s biting parting words to Mike may finally make sense to him now (“I always knew you’d make a shitty father”), though hopefully he’ll be able to prove her wrong in one way or another. Mike may still be finding his footing with this, but their interactions over the past couple of issues have been fun, and it was a great narrative choice to have Jaime embrace Mike as his father rather than close himself off after learning the truth. Jaime was even given his own time to shine by helping the Killjoys during the mall ambush. Sofia and Maxwell may not approve of the kid waving around a raygun, but they can’t stop Monster from using his own two hands.

Speaking of the mall ambush, the depth of corruption continues to grow deeper. The corporate jerks that have been plotting their next move over at the B.T. Global Marketing office are none other than various surviving groups of A.K.A.s, most notably the ruthless and calculating Books on Tape.

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Going into the final two issues, there are still some burning questions, like why is B.T. Global so interested in Jaime? Are they using him for leverage to keep the public eye on the Killjoys, or is there more to the story? Why did Sofia’s facial recognition scan show up as Maria? And how exactly did Mom, Dad, and the A.K.A.s go from fighting evil in the Unseen to … brainwashing the world as B.T. Global Marketing?

Artist Leonardo Romero and colorist Jordie Bellaire’s work on National Anthem has been consistently awesome across the board, be it fight scenes, flashbacks, or casual drawings as our characters are simply reconvening. Romero’s drawing style and Bellaire’s choice of colors round out this story in the best way possible — it just wouldn’t be the same without these two. Way and Simon crafted a truly killer tale with National Anthem, and Romero and Bellaire have visually brought it to life in the most aesthetically pleasing ways.

The art in this issue reached a whole new level though, thanks to the psychedelic scenes during the Killjoys’ visit with the Witch. For a few pages, Romero and Bellaire’s work was untethered in the most wonderful way as they were able to step outside the bounds of the story with an untamed menagerie of shapes, colors, and textures galore.

This has been a fun ride thus far with the Killjoys of National Anthem, and my only wish is that we could spend more time with these characters beyond a six-issue miniseries. Depending on how things pan out in the final two issues, story-wise, Way and Simon would certainly have an audience interested in following along with more stories from this fascinating world and captivating characters that they’ve created.

Though we only saw a brief glimpse of the Scarecrow at the beginning of this issue, it looks like he’ll be well on his way to creating problems for the Killjoys in issue #5.

See the full synopsis for issue #5 below.

As Mike Milligram races towards New York City with the re-assembled Killjoys crew, our band of reality-saving exterminators must fight their way through a deranged corporate hitman known as the Scarecrow, and blast through a giant highway barricade or die trying.

Circling back to the Scarecrow, there were also a couple of fun Danger Days nods in the scene inside of the dollar store, the most obvious being the fact that the Halloween mask that the Scarecrow puts on is essentially the Danger Days Draculoid mask. There was also a Frankenstein mask on the rack beside the Dracula mask, appropriately labeled a “Frank” mask. Though the style of the mask doesn’t quite match Fun Ghoul’s off-color trademark Frankenstein’s monster mask, it still feels like a bit of a wink at the very least.

Issue #5 of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem will arrive on shelves on February 10.

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Lindsey
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, she's likely reading books and comics or dabbling in creative writing. Otherwise, she's probably yelling about something Star Wars or Marvel related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: lindsey@nerdsandbeyond.com

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