The big news last week was the stealth release of Robert Kirkman, Scott M Gimble, Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn’s Die! Die! Die! from Image/Skybound. Released to try and emulate a more patient, pre-internet period when you walked into your comic book store and, other than the odd trade advert, you didn’t know every single detail or shock ending in advance. You certainly wouldn’t have had a clue about Batman’s non-marriage, that’s for sure. And, on that front, it was mission accomplished.
Going forward, Kirkman has promised to maintain the mystery as much as possible with virtually no fanfare whatsoever. I, for one, think its a brave move and, ironically thanks to the internet, we’ve been chattering about it ever since. But, what’s it like?
Well, as virtually the only person I know who enjoyed Eli Roth’s Green Inferno, I was always going to love a comic where even the cover is dripping with blood and the implied promise (not subtly, I’ll admit) of the ultra violence and some kind of sick and twisted ‘buddy movie’ in print. And, it didn’t disappoint.
We’re thrown straight into the action with a chase scene similar to the dynamic openings of James Bond films, but with more violence and more blood. And, as this is a comic, the violence can be pored over by the reader far longer than any Bond film, making this a worthy title for it’s self censorious ‘Mature Reader’ warning. The effing and jeffing utilised in much of the dialogue across this debut issue also contributes to this well deserved label too. This isn’t the comic you leave around in polite company. But then, Kirkman and company know their readership and embrace this violence and brashness with aplomb. The only real surprise I had was the location of the opening scene: Shrewsbury, UK. Maybe a certain artist on another Kirkman title who calls Shrewsbury his home, gave him the inspiration? Or maybe the rural setting – far from the maddening crowd – was simply a beautiful, quiet, lazy setting to juxtapose the violence with?
Either way, we are soon given more tidbits of information as it is revealed that shady government spooks – a cabal who ensure the world runs smoothly through carefully considered assassinations – are behind this whole mess. Aren’t they always? Spooks who are always thinking and planning three, four, five steps ahead and calculating every eventuality. But, only because they want to bump off enemies of the state, or simply downright awful people in power (aren’t they all?) with the minimum fuss. To be honest, there aren’t many – if any – nice people in this comic. All in the name of maintaining order in the world. And, in the hands of Burnham, it all looks great. If gruesome.
It’s a comic book that revels in black, sick humour. The kind of humour these killers for the state would have no problem with, given their profession. These are bad people doing bad things. But, it will make you laugh, if you allow yourself to suspend your disbelief, which you really must to enjoy this book. After all, everyone loved Deadpool, and he’s a stone cold killer with gags himself. The scene in which Nate, a secret operative who makes the aforementioned Bond look like Bernie Sanders, discusses the retirement of a certain derogatory term, and replacing it with ‘ballsack‘ instead, because they’re ‘weak and pathetic‘, is not only funny, but there is a certain logic in his argument that you may find yourself agreeing with. It’s not that he’s a feminist, far from it, but it’s this kind of dark humour that will sort out those who will continue to read this book and those who won’t. I’m one who will continue to read. Will you?
Overall, its a bold, brash and bloody read which only hints at the team up on the cover by the end of the book. But, it does a great job of laying out its stall and letting the reader know what they’re letting themselves in for in future issues. And, with the promise of said team up, this hopefully veers away from being another James Bond parody in the style of Ennis and Braun’s Jimmy’s Bastards. Judging by the talent attached to this project, I am quite sure they’ll find their own voice. But with more expletives!