“Native meat, the only way to dine!” - Fox
Rufus is back in book two of the Killeroo saga, this time as envisioned by a number of artists. We get six stories, an entire gallery of concept art, and that Darren Close bloke trying to explain himself. Got to say that presents a pretty decent “bangs for bucks” scenario to even the most cheap bastard amongst us. Let's check out the road kill.
Before getting into things, and to save on the confusion, Rufus is the name of the lead character in Killeroo, a Roo with an attitude.
The interesting thing with different Artists having a go at a central character is the different interpretations this is invariable going to lead to. So we have Rufus as the urban grunge avenger we saw in the first book, but we also have a return to the environmental roots the character exposed while still contained within student publications. Equally we have the trad Rufus look, a sort of anti hero of the Clint Eastwood variety, through to pretty much a were-roo type concept where it's all blood laced violence in a pretty frenetic package. Was trying to work in roos loose in the top paddock there, but that seemed a tad trite even for me.
Each of the stories in book two is a stand alone, though I guess for anyone with in depth Killeroo sensibilities there's going to be some recognised frameworks going down. Good for the Goose sees Rufus battling gangsters in an urban setting, a continuation of the first story of book one if you like, with the menacing marsupial of mayhem taking on almost a super hero persona. Jason Paulos, the dude pops up everywhere, takes a more violent anti social stance into the excellent Killeroo's big Night Off, with Rufus fitting more the deranged killer mode. Paulos continuing his ventures into retro comics here. Conversely Aaron Shanahan returns to environmental issues with Species Decreases, albeit with a smattering of Rufus violence to be going on with. Shanahan actually does raise an issue I hadn't thought of, but then I figured wtf kill em all and let a Government board of inquiry sort it out. Free Kick is a bit of an oddity in the collection, for sure it enshrines Rufus as the anti-hero, but to be honest the whole story is aimed at a single punch line. Yeah should have seen it coming, but for some reason missed it completely. Damien Shanahan's On the Road sees the Killeroo strip at its most naive, art wise, with I guess a poignant story to tell. What I found interesting is that Shanahan captures one of Downunder horror's enduring images, the Roo hunter as gun happy yobbo, see the grossly over rated Wake In Fight (1971) or for that matter Razorback (1984). And finally Jason Paulos has the last say with the clear Freak Brothers influenced Position Vacant. Now that's a lot of talent and story telling ability thrown onto the table folks.
Naturally each tale in this collection of cosmic collisions is drawn in entirely different styles. For the most part everything is hanging together on the art front, though I'm not going to note individual styles. Scope the comic to check out what's going down. Killeroo is like a box of chocolates etc, dig on in, decide which flavours fit your personal preference, then start an email campaign to get Darren Close to follow your choices. That nearly always works apparently, the internet told me so. What I found to be cool on the art front, and you can get more of this if you follow Killeroo on twitter, was the different full page visualisations of Rufus by various artists. So you get your coin's worth with the pictures, just keep telling people you're hitting the comic for the stories yo.
Special mention of Jason Badower's cover, before we finish off this review, excellent colour artwork that should have most collectors more than pleased to wrap Killeroo Book Two in plastic and add to the archives. There's a bonus back cover coming your way, but hey got to leave one or two surprises here else readers get complacent.
Okay so why should you buy this book? Basically you're getting yourself a little slice of Aussie comic history, as hinted at above a sampler of Killeroo the early years, and a damn fine read to boot. For Jason Paulos fans it's going to be a must have. And besides which you're supporting the local industry in the face of what at stages seems to be an avalanche of product arriving from the U.S publishers.
I should also mention Killeroo Book Two might be just the intro you need with a number of new titles featuring Rufus promised for the coming months. More on those as I get my sticky fingers on the Issues. If you don't believe me then check this out.
For once I'm not exactly sure where you are going to score a copy of the book. First port of call should be your local comic shop. As stated previously we don't have an emporium out here in the wilds of Oz, so good luck to those living in the major centers. For those either beyond retail therapy or tuning in from off shore, try a google or something.