“Just wanna have a little chat Jimmy, that's all” - Rufus
Book One of Killeroo contains two stories and the obligatory piece covering the genesis of the character and short bios of major contributors to the book. For those wanting to know the gory details, the Killeroo strip first appeared in a University Newspaper and then evolved to an internet phenomena, before gracing it's own actual comic, the one we're looking at today for the reading impaired.
So the first story, hard day's night, sees Rufus, the titular character, rushing to a City bar to try and get the low down on something big that his sources can tell him is going down shortly. Naturally destruction and mayhem ensue as the local low lifes prove less than forthcoming with the information. The second story, killeroo jr., involves a teenage Rufus entering a skating competition in order to raise money for a packet of smokes. Lets hop to it and break this one down.
Okay so the book is a decade old, but still available, and pretty much is recommended reading for those wondering what Darren Close might be up to with his incarnation of the marauding marsupial madness. So treat this review as a sort of archaeological dig where we attempt to discover the origins of a character likely to be big news in the near future in Downunder comic circles. Yes you can wear your Indiana fedora, but can we cut the French maid's outfit this time!
I guess the obvious comparison for Rufus would be as sort of a Roo version of Les Norton*, except without the ginger. So we're talking one big tough mofo with hands of steel and a take no prisoners attitude. Sort of like Batman except without the overly camp get up, Rufus doesn't need to wear his jockey juniors on the outside to look tough. In the first story Rufus is rocketing into an unnamed City looking for answers, readers will immediately be struck by the obvious Aussie urban grunge, coupled with the Downunder prerogative of viewing the crime story from a different slant. We don't have forensic super models or squared jawed police officers with hearts of gold, we have hard bastards out to get the answers anyway they can, and none come harder than Rufus.
Clearly hard day's night is the first in a story arc, that seeks to set the tone and weirdly a sort of noir atmosphere. We get introduced to the main character, a hard hitting killer kangaroo of khaos, and have something of a mystery to follow. Like Rufus, we are wondering what's going down, but of course have to follow the big fella's current of carnage to find out. Great start to a story, worthy of a graphic novel in it's own right, Darren Close get off your arse and write that novel stat pal! Yes the first story is involving and you are left with a real need to see it through to it's conclusion, great piece of writing by Close and his associate in crime Alberto Diaz.
Unfortunately after a great start the second story in the book, killeroo jr., lets down the home side somewhat. I guess the story could be best described as a “kidult” outing, though I honestly don't think it will raise much support from either Adults or younger folk. Clearly an early outing, the story lacks any holding power and doesn't do anything to advance our mythology by flashback. I viewed the second story as being a bonus inclusion to the book, so no real harm done, and remembering this is an archaeological dig rather than trying to put Author heads on spikes. Did I mention the first story rocked?
Turning to the artwork then, the cover by Ben Templesmith was really working for yours truly. There's a sort of modern art feeling going down that doesn't somehow manage to deviate from the psycho aspect of the main character. Between the covers each panel is presented in crisp easy to follow style with an almost 1960s feel going down. While not setting the world on fire the artwork is solid and professional, which is about what ya want from a comic end of day.
On the technical side of the smokes packet, Killeroo Book One is presented in U.S comic book format, colour covers, and two toned panels. Good quality paper used throughout, and none of that cheap smudging of ink that makes you feel like you picked up a cheap import. Value for money right there, and attention to delivering a good solid product.
I'm actually pretty stoked I got to look at this book as an example of local talent being put to good use. Clearly Darren Close is working toward surprising us all with a new Killeroo book, but in the meantime if you are prepared to hit the archaeological trail you'll get a good insight into the lead character and perhaps glimpse the origins of Rufus. Recommended to Readers who have a more historic bent than your normal grubby comic consumer.
If after a copy of the book, and I would tend to get one for collection purposes, then you are going to have to contact your local comic emporium and see if they have Killeroo Book One in stock. If they don't yell and scream and threaten drastic measures. Alternatively, checkout the killeroo blog for updates. Best I can do, we don't actually have a comic store here on the bogan coast.
*- Les Norton: see Robert G Barrett's site of ill repute.