Fresh off of the exciting Dark Horse miniseries Pop with Jason Copland, writer Curt Pires is back with Mayday, a new book from Black Mask Studios, illustrated by Chris Peterson. If you’re familiar with Pires’ style, you’ll know his stories have the kind of cinematic touch you would expect from a guy weened on, I’d imagine, Grant Morrison, and movies like Natural Born Killers. The influences on display in his work seem to come from every other corner of the media but comics, giving the rhythms of his storytelling an off-kilter sensibility that is both inviting and off-putting, alternating between the easy to read, straightforward panel progression of, say, Garth Ennis, and the more avant garde structural experimentation that’s become du jour as of late in books like Ales Kot’s Zero. Despite being slick and decidedly modern, there’s something very 1990s about his approach, particularly here with Mayday, a comic that mashes up corrosive Gen-X self awareness with a post-Millennial tint on popular culture.
Mayday follows Terrance Gattaca, the drug-addled filmmaker behind a popular film titled (no bullshit) Glitterfuck Empire. His narrative voice humorously refers to winning an Oscar for his efforts as making it big at the “white people awards” and he plunges himself into sophomore slump debauchery, an arc that immediately separates itself from the similar trajectory explored in Morrison’s own Annihilator recently by coloring the entire Hollyweird world a shade of “fuck this vapid shit.” Gattaca is kind of pathetic, but we want to root for him because he knows he’s a piece of shit and doesn’t try too hard to defend it. This being a throwback to the heyday of Shane Black and all, his struggle to produce a follow-up dovetails into some great wrong place/wrong time genre theatrics, the specifics of which are less important than the thrilling injection of guns and action and being “on the run.”
Introduced late in the introductory chapter, it appears Terrance’s running mate will be Kleio, a transgender bartender who gets caught up in the gunplay with our misanthropic protagonist. Given the double billing nature of their co-lead relationship, I’d have hoped the first issue’s run time would have more room for expanding on her character, but it gives you something to look forward to in subsequent chapters. Some considerable space this outing was necessary to set up probable antagonist Benicio Del Cocaine, a murderous ex-movie star with his own cult who casually quotes Kanye West lyrics, and this issue’s primary villains, a pair of hired killers in Universal Studios monster masks who’ll immediately call to mind the pair of operatives from Pop, as well as Hazel and Cha Cha from The Umbrella Academy.
Chris Peterson’s art is perfectly matched for this title. His line work captures a tentative realism that expresses the satirical disdain employed in this depiction of Los Angeles. He fills the background with some fun gags (like a billboard for a movie called White Privilege 8), and displays a serious affinity for solid character acting, drawing a wide variety of facial expressions that further the book’s cinematic tone, while employing adventurous layouts that keep things exciting and not just a litany of page width film frames.
Mayday is a blast from page one, finding Pires get more comfortable with his considerable comedic chops (the book features many laugh out loud moments, not just in the dialogue, but visual gags as well) without abandoning his skill for a certain galactic poetry, best displayed here in a particularly resonant death scene of an otherwise throwaway character. The use of music in the book, featuring references to Charlie XCX and Neon Indian, further lend an offbeat flavor and a kind of credibility to what is sure to be a ridiculous thrill ride using the soulless wasteland of Hollywood as cannon fodder for modern pop commentary.
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Mayday #1 is out March 25th. If you’re into coked up movie directors getting into gunfights with guys wearing King Kong and Frankenstein masks, this is the book for you.