The Greatest Show In Comics? Tap Dance Killer #1
by Rachel Bellwoar
Writer, Ted Sikora, and artist, Nikolaus Harrison, could’ve put any word after “Tap Dance” and I would’ve wanted to read their comic, but the inclination increased after reading the description for their new series, Tap Dance Killer.
The Tap Dance Killer herself isn’t a new character, and a timeline at the end of the issue walks through her start as the name of a song Sikora wrote in 1990. However, this is the first time she’s had a solo series and everything you need to know about her is provided.
Issue one jumps between three different time points: when Nikki St. Clair became the Tap Dance Killer, her prison sentence after, and when she escaped (aka the present). The superhero tradition is alive in her origin story. The Tap Dance Killer isn’t a character Nikki created, but someone she became after accepting a drink from a critic, whose solution to what she perceived as bad acting was to turn the cast of Nothing Like Vaudeville into their characters (the question of who this critic is gets lost in the shuffle, but I hope we see them again).
Before I said “superhero origin story”, but it could easily be supervillain. Sikora grabs readers with his narration style, where the narrator knows what we’re thinking, and has a lot of personality and humor in their voice. He or she actively addresses the reader and it makes you more alert and awake while reading, because you don’t know when you’ll be called out. That kind of immersion in a story that includes such big, exaggerated characters (think the costumed villains on Gotham) is truly something to see. And “see” is the wrong word because it’s happening to you. From the introduction you’re asked to imagine yourself in this world, alongside the characters, and while, because of current events, I wish the introduction had cut off before the ending, the technique is beyond reproach.
The panels for the flashbacks have this really cool, wobbly shape, like the ripple effect you sometimes see in a movie or TV show before a dream or memory. David Baf Gallart and Sikora are behind the colors and the early flashbacks have this great old horror feel, with the lighting directly in characters’ faces (like telling stories with a flashlight in the dark), and colors (cackling, evil greens) you’d find in test tubes in a scientist’s lab. Harrison never forgets Nikki is a dancer, and the way she moves in ordinary situations speaks to that. Running from the police you’d think she’d drop all pretense of performance, but instead her arms are moving like she’s starring in a comedy show that turns into West Side Story. If you’re a musical fan, it’s fantastic.
Another aspect that keeps things interesting is trying to get a handle on how much of Nikki’s personality is still there. Her half face make-up indicates a Jekyll and Hyde division, but her personalities seem to overlap more than fight each other. There was one line where I wasn’t sure, but Nikki’s always the tap dance killer. What that doesn’t mean is that she’s heartless or doesn’t care about the people or places she used to love.
Need to see this Tap Dance Killer for yourself? Tap Dance Killer #1 is on sale now from Hero Tomorrow Comics.