Review – Punks Not Dead #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing (Black Crown imprint)
Writer: David Barnett
Artists: Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar, Dee Cunniffe
Release Date: 21st February 2018

I always approach anything to do with Sid Vicious with a whole pillar rather than just a pinch of salt. Over the years too many people have fallen into the “Sid and Nancy” trap of glorifying of his heroin addiction and love affair with Nancy Spungen rather than portraying him for what he was. Namely, a young bloke sadly dealt the wrong hand in life who found something in his mate Johnny and punk that he didn’t get anywhere else. Which is why when I read the first pages of Punks Not Dead, my doubts where thankfully silenced by one simple fact:

David Barnett knows what he’s talking about.

So what we have here is a punk writing what I feel is simultaneously an ode to the poor bloke called John Beverley (aka Sid Vicious after Johnny’s hamster bit him) and a great stab at current culture… with a supernatural twist.

The story follows a kid called Fergie who’s a modern day reflection of Sid – no dad, mum’s an attention-seeking druggy and he doesn’t fit in at school. The poor kid is used by his mum to make up stories for Heat magazine or the equivalent of Jeremy Kyle show, leaving him open to the bullies at school. But whilst travelling through the gent’s room at Heathrow airport he spots a weird sight, some pasty-looking spikey-haired chap insulting another man before walking through the wall. It turns out it’s the ghost of Sid Vicious, doomed to roam the terminals because his mum dropped his ashes into a vent. But now he’s attached to young Fergie, playing the role of a more foul-mouthed drop dead Fred.

While this is going on we also have a mysterious Mod witchy secret agent exorcising hell imps from Downing Street, seemingly on a collision course with the old punk who’s deemed a threat to existence. Even in the first issue this promises to be a recreation of the mods vs punks fights of the ’70s, except for the fact that one’s dead and the other is a female James Bond wizard.

Just explaining this story felt insane to write let alone to read and I bloody love it. It’s as colourful and random as the kidnap lettering on the Never Mind The Bollocks album, with a lovingly recreated but zombified Sid against a ghastly drawn collection of baddies, softer-toned protagonists and general background characters. Barnett continues to prove his punk credentials by slipping in the numerous song and interview references from pistol and punk past while painting a new and unique world with the genuine heart of a fan.

Reading this felt like the manifestation of that moment when a teenager finds the genre of music that really speaks to them. But in this case, rather than the lyrics speaking to them metaphorically there’s the actual ghost of the musician helping them through life the same way the songs do.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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