By Dustin Cabeal
I’m more surprised that there hasn’t already been several comics with this same title. Comics to me will always be this amazing middle ground between books, movies, tv, and music which makes Punks Not Dead well suited for comic books. It’s also sure to make every 90’s Vertigo Comic fan go, “It’s so 90’s Vertigo Comics!” Which I’m sure the group behind Black Crown is a little tired of hearing at this point. I won’t deny that it’s true though, but it’ll be the last time I mention it.
Now, I’m going to jump right into this issue. There’s going to be spoilers, but I suspect they’re only spoilers if you haven’t A) read the synopsis B) read the preview and C) studied the cover in any capacity. If you’re going in fresh as a Morninglory cracking open for the first time, then you’ve been warned.
I nearly stopped reading this comic when Sid Vicious showed up. I’m using his full name because that’s who it is. I don’t know if it’s part of the story to never outright say, “This is the ghost of Sid Vicious”, but it is the ghost of Sid Vicious. He does a terrible, and I do mean fucking terrible job of coaching our main character Fergie on how to fight. It is the only time in the comic in which the dialogue comes across pointless and ridiculous. But yeah, I nearly stopped reading right there. The dialogue, again, wasn’t helping me push through, but I said okay fuck it. A story about the ghost of Sid Vicious, let’s go and you better fucking mention he killed someone.
After the intro we back up the story, a personal pet peeve of mine is when any story does this trope. This time around I can understand why they did, they needed to introduce Sid Vicious (I really hope some lawyer is getting pissed off with me saying Sid Vicious so much in this review). The real story begins with Fergie getting ready to go out on a talk show with his mom. Since this is based in the U.K. I will give the American equivalent, which is Murray. Fergie and his mom apparently go around on different shows and such and pretend to be different kinds of shitty people and get paid for their tapings. Fergie gets lost in thinking about his real dad that he’s never met and goes off script, which throws his mom off. Later, they head to the airport and in the bathroom is where Fergie meets Sid. He’s of course, the only fucker that can see him. There’s another entirely different, but related aspect of the story that I will leave for you to discover on your own.
Boiled down to its simplest form it’s a supernatural ghost story. It’s the characters that make the difference and I’m not actually referring to Sid Vicious, who makes several appearances in this issue in case you were wondering. No, it’s actually Fergie and the rest of the cast of characters that drive and create the interest. If anything, Sid Vicious is characterized in the utmost safest way possible. Hell, just reading his Wikipedia page gives more insight into the character than this comic book version of Sid Vicious. Aside from the opening the pacing and structure of the rest of the comic is great. Fergie’s narration feels like it’s coming from a teen boy with a shitty life. I mean, he’s on TV with his Mum pretending to be lazy and into gay porn… yeah, Fergie’s life is interesting and the reason I will read more.
The artwork at times feels out of place in this setting, but then other times it’s a perfect fit. There’s a photorealism to the characters and settings, but they all look detached from each other. It’s a clever style with distinct coloring, but the coloring plays a role in the separation effect. At one point a character is introduced and she looks real, except for her clothing which is colored completely different than the rest of the page. It’s a style choice and it works for the most part. It’s one of those things that could go either way with more issues; it could be something that you love or something that you hate. Time will tell.
It would be easy to either love or hate this comic book. Some will find it not “punk enough” or they’ll love it a bit too much thinking it’s an amazing tribute to punk. Even others will delve into a dialogue about whether or not Punk really is or isn’t dead. It’s a comic that’s sure to have a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons, so hopefully, you came to this review to cut through all that. Plain and simple, it’s a hell of a comic. It’s not perfect, but it sharply written, beautifully drawn and colored and full of potential.
Punks Not Dead #1