Sunday, April 18, 2021

Review: The Journey Comes To an End in ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem’ #6 by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon

Let’s never grow up, never get jobs, never drive slow … let’s stay like this forever.

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem is an origin story that’s been years in the making, and the final chapter is finally here.

Created by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, the idea for the Killjoys was first born over a decade ago. These initial plans went unfinished and were instead morphed into the post-apocalyptic California landscape of My Chemical Romance’s 2010 album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Way and Simon expanded upon the world of Danger Days with a brief comic miniseries in 2013.

In 2020, the duo announced that they had returned to their first story and were finally bringing it to see the light of day. And thus National Anthem was finally on its way, ready to tell the story of the original Killjoy — Mike Milligram. Though bits and pieces of things recognized from the Danger Days universe have made their way into National Anthem, this adventure and its Fabulous Killjoys are very much their own separate story. The final issue now brings this story of the Killjoys to a close, just as they’ve arrived in New York City for the final showdown with B.T. Global marketing.

Warning: Spoilers for issue #6 below!

It comes as no surprise that the final issue of National Anthem hits the ground running with a trunk full of emotions, pulling back the curtain on the final layers of the story that we’ve yet to see. Though we’re programmed to innately view B.T. Global Marketing as the villains, there’s a dark and human truth to the question that this story asks — is it easier to forget the pain entirely in order to move on with your life? There’s a sparkling temptation to that possibility, as seen when Jaime and Mike almost fall into B.T.’s clutches. This alludes to the way that we as a society walk a fine line between the pros and cons of ignorance, but one must not forget that the fires won’t stop burning just because we close our eyes.

In short, National Anthem is a punchy, edgy, and thoughtful tale that rides hard and fast and doesn’t stop until the tank is empty. An undercurrent of social commentary plays through the speakers as we veer across pages splashed with bold, bright colors and artwork etched in a catchy, retro style.

The climax of this story unfolds in an ironic, full circle nature — B.T. Global Marketing’s corrupt empire is built upon the tantalizing concept of letting go. As such, the final thing that Mike, Jaime, and the rest of the Killjoys must do in order to take them down once and for all is to let go, too. The difference, however, is that this is done of their own free will. There’s a narrative beauty in the acknowledgment of two concepts that sound similar yet are ultimately miles apart, and the power in finding the strength to guide our own stories.

The epic artist team up of artist Leonardo Romero and colorist Jordie Bellaire will be sorely missed in the absence of further issues of National Anthem. This pair brought Way and Simon’s brilliant story to life in an incomparable way, with countless frames of artwork that could easily serve as standalone collages to be framed and hung. Bellaire’s choices of color — which easily flowed from dreamy, gentle tones to stark, bold splashes — were a continuous compliment to Romero’s incredible illustrations throughout. And I’d be remiss not to mention the work of letterer Nate Piekos and his brilliant, colorful glitch pixel designs that have been found throughout the story.

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Overall, Way, Simon, and the rest of the National Anthem team have outdone themselves with a fast, fun, and layered miniseries. After spending all of this time with Mike Milligram and his merry band of Fabulous Killjoys, it was bittersweet to turn the final pages. If Way and Simon ever decided to return to the universe of National Anthem, further stories about the exploits of Mike, Jaime, Sofia, Kara, and Max would be more than welcome.

Take a look back on our reviews for each issue of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys: National Anthem here.

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Lindsey
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 related on Twitter @lindyysolo. Contact: directors@nerdsandbeyond.com

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