A smashing debut worth a look.
Nothing ever truly dies, especially music. That’s why the title of the new Black Crown and IDW comic series Punks Not Dead #1 is so damn true. In this new indie comic series a boy lives a complicated and unique life, a secret government paranormal United Kingdom unit, and the ghost of Sid Vicious all come together in one heck of a debut issue.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As if being an awkward, bullied 15-year-old isn’t bad enough, “Fergie” Ferguson suddenly discovers he can see dead people. Well, one dead person specifically–the ghost of a certain punk rocker named Sid. Sid’s spirit was trapped in London’s Heathrow Airport for 40 years until the day he met Fergie. Sid’s ghost is now stuck to Fergie–as if Fergie doesn’t have enough on his plate, being raised by a single mum whose idea of parenting is strictly fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. Now Fergie has to contend with an unruly ghost sidekick and some weird, uncontrollable new “abilities.” How does the father Fergie never knew fit into this mayhem? And why is the Department for Extra-Usual Affairs showing an interest? Never Mind the Bollocks–all of this plus fish fingers, chunky chips, and endless pints of anarchy in the new monthly series PUNKS NOT DEAD!
Why does this matter?
This comic series mixes teen angst, science fiction weirdness, and the ghost of a god damn punk legend into its narrative. Do you really need any more reasons than that?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The starts average enough…
I was blown away by how original and fun this comic was. It’s not dealing in cliches or tropes, but is a fresh take on a coming of age story. Or maybe not, maybe it’s not about coming of age, but just a boy trying to find his father. Either way, there’s a relatable lead character mixed in amongst a story about secret organizations within the usually conservatively viewed UK government. When a demonic imp shows up on 10 Downing Street you prick up your ears at how weird and awesome of an idea that is.
The story opens with a boy getting into a fight with a bully in school–conventional enough–but he’s being coached on how to fight by the ghost of Sid Vicious. Weird I know, and from there the story reveals this boy’s mother has an unconventional way of making money. Really nothing is conventional about this comic, which is why it’s so exciting to read. If you dig sci-fi stories you’ll enjoy the ghost of Sid, or you’ll be desperately interested in learning more about the Department of Extra-Usual Affairs. By the end of the issue you’ll be all-in with the different plots and potential for the story.
The visuals are quite cool too. There’s a full page spread or two that are at once beautiful and weird. Martin Simmonds is an excellent artist and it’s the type of style that makes it immediately obvious there are benefits to the penciler also being the colorist. His use of color is very rich and arresting. There are also interesting style changes that mix things up. Take for instance a moment where Sid recounts how his ghost got stuck in an airport. In the style of a airline safety manual we see a person in 2D perspective carry Sid’s ashes and then fall. It’s a cool way to show a rather serious moment. Later a new special agent is heading to his first day on the job and Simmonds uses a small panel to break up wider panels as he talks to his boyfriend. Further into the comic there’s an important moment for our protagonist in his battle with the bully and it’s awash in a white full page spread. It looks special and probably had a deeper meaning for the moment.
It can’t be perfect can it?
A few different times I was left a bit lost due to references to places or people most likely only people from the United Kingdom will get. It didn’t hurt my understanding, but it did make me feel out of the loop.
Is It Good?
An excellent first issue that’s fresh and new every sci-fi fan should get on their list. I grew up watching The X-Files and this series has the same vibes that series threw off. Plus, it’s punk as hell!