Oh, Killstrike is a hilarious idea that doesn’t quite hit the ground running in this first issue, but demonstrates its potential. Writer Max Bemis hedges bets on his in-joke’s commerciality early, when on just the second page, comics geek protagonist Jared explains (without naming any real corporate or creator names) to his unknowing wife the comics industry’s contribution to the 1990s “Extreme” trend – exemplified by artists like Rob Liefeld, characters like Spawn, indy upstart publishers like WildStorm and the ripple effect through DC and Marvel in the form of cyborgs, blood, mullets, smaller costumes on the women and bigger guns for the men.
The very next panel depicts two guys high-fiving (?!) over their laptop, appreciating the Internet’s ironic celebration of this era. So, the joke’s being explained to those who didn’t read comics in the 90s, or at least haven’t yet seen that infamous Rob Liefeld drawing of Captain America’s pecs, and then the rest of us who already have are off-handedly acknowledged in third person. It’s an awkward, unconfident start because I can’t imagine anyone being sold on this comic’s concept who isn’t familiar already with what’s being satirized. Bemis goes out of his way later on to let serious comics readers know he’s one of them, dropping hints about our hero’s indy-comics elitism.
When Killstrike, the ultimate extreme 90s comic book action hero magically leaps into the real world, Jared’s terror and disbelief are endearing and the issue finds its footing. Killstrike himself is a bit too self-aware to be as funny as he could be, oscillating vaguely as to whether or not he knows he’s a living comic book character – it hurts some of the jokes, like a comment about Jared’s wife Meryl’s lack of “gigantic breasts” – if gigantic breasts are normal in his comic book world, why would he call them “gigantic”? The gimmick still works; Bemis gives him a couple of truly laugh-out-loud remarks from his testosterone fueled id.
Logan Faerber’s art, ironically, is good for humor but can’t do justice to the kind of overly-detailed muscle-bound freak Killstrike is supposed to be.
Juan Manuel Tumburús’ colors are nice.
Oh, Killstrike‘s exposition is hopefully its biggest hurdle.
Writer, Max Bemis; artist, Logan Faerber; colorist, Juan Manuel Tumburús, letterer, Jim Campbell; publisher, Boom! Studios.