Publisher: BHP Comics
Writer: Dave Cook
Artist: Craig Paton
If you buy one comic this year, buy this one. Yes, it’s that good.
Good for you.
The setup for Killtopia is deceptively familiar. In a not-so distant future, a sector of The City has been turned into a robot-hunting battleground in the wake of a devastating, apocalyptic event. Mega-corporations like Kaiju Cola sponsor events and raise Wreckers of their own, ghostly cyber-ninjas stalk the shadows, and techno-DJs take down the opposition with truly killer beats. Among them, the Wrecker Stiletto is the superstar of superstars: she’s rock goddess, killer queen and global icon rolled into one murderous package. At the other end of the scale, Shinji scrapes a living on robo-scraps, trying to get medicine for his Rot-infected sister. When he inadvertently comes across Cr5sh, a bot that has seemingly achieved sentience, he sees an opportunity which sends the two of them on a desperate mission pursued by a Technicolor cast of killers.
I am hugely biased, let’s be clear: Killtopia ticks so many boxes it’s preposterous. It’s post-apocalyptic urban Sci-fi that manages to keep the tone light by being totally irreverent. It’s got (Vibro)Whip-sharp dialogue and characters that you’ll love and hate in the same breath. It also has colours to make your eyes bleed in their 16-bit, neon-tinted glory in a world realised in pencils so crisp they cut through your brain. Channelling everything from classic anime to 2000AD, Transmet to Streets of Rage, it has Mechs, gangsters, and lashings of ultra-violence poured all over it like syrup.
Killtopia is equal parts serious sci-fi and ridiculous romp. It could very easily slip into rain-soaked techno noir or futuristic farce, but it manages to avoid either of these. Paton’s art is key to this. It’s rich and full, with lots of sordid, grubby little details to keep the eye returning to the same page, reinforcing anonymity and alienation like a dystopic Where’s Wally. Equally, he know when to be restrained and throw a character into relief with a single, block colour background – the striking use of vibrant, almost neon yellow is really arresting and highly effective – it jars, but for all the right reasons, and sets it apart from so many other titles.
Cook has created an exciting, engaging world that’s firmly entrenched in that very British future-shock. More importantly though, it’s a compelling story that weaves its plot through the eyes of a range of its cast, giving depth to the narrative and empathy, if not sympathy, for its characters. It doesn’t hold back on the blood and language, but doesn’t do so unnecessarily: it’s video-game gore, pitched perfectly with knowing humour. But the humour that draws you in so well in the first few pages gives way to a darker, edgier story as a whole, segueing perfectly like a well-timed cut-scene.
Killtopia really is everything that I want from a home-grown comic, complete with sharp satire and subtle(/not-so-subtle) nods. Kickstarter can be an unpredictable beast but it’s testament to the hard-work of the creators to have their excellent effort picked up by BHP for launch at Thought Bubble.
Do yourself a favour, and dive elbow-deep into Sector K.
Rating: 5 blood-soaked death-raging turbo-ninja stars out of 5.
Killtopia vol. 1 launches on September 22nd at Thought Bubble in Leeds. You can find Dave at Table #36 in the “Ask for Mercy” Marquee.
However, if you can’t make it to Leeds, have no fear because you can pre-order a physical copy of the comic from the BHP Comics Webstore (CLICK HERE).