"It's said that he's some kind of Kangaroo-human hybrid, that goes by the name Rufus" - Narrator
During the 1970s and 80s outback Australia is pretty much doing it's best to emulate Mad Max, with two rival biker gangs warring over domination of an area local and Federal authorities are turning a blind eye to. The Warriors are led by the mythical Rufus, better known as Killeroo, a sort of mutant 7-foot marsupial with a taste for violence. The rival Redbacks are under the helm of the vicious Stewart "Stewie" Bedford, and are out to wipe out the Warriors.
In what will no doubt go down as "the Battle of the Nullarbor Servo" the Redbacks set a trap for the Warriors and its violence to the extreme. Not many of the combatants are going to make it out of the melee, with fatalities and maximum demolition being the order of the day. Authorities are unable to piece together what exactly happened but the legend of Rufus continues to grow on the back roads and city alleys of Australia. Let's check out the latest Killeroo saga and see if we can't help the Authorities with their inquiries, the truth is out there yo!
Darren Close's Killeroo series is one of those outings that seems to have had a profound effect on the development of modern Australian comics, but which seemingly disappeared into the red dirt of the outback quite some time ago. Hopes were raised that Rufus was going to re-appear, like the fabled road warrior walking down a two lane blacktop, when a Killeroo story appeared in Issued #9 of Decay magazine, (reviewed right about here), but since nothing much was announced through the end of 2011 hopes were left broken like smashed beer bottles on the tarmac of an outback servo. Imagine our general surprised when this comic, Killeroo Gangwar, appeared on the review queue out of nowhere. Fingers crossed we're talking a reboot, damned if the local scene doesn't need an anti-hero, as Writer Darren Close gets back to the future.
Yeah enough of this background malarkey let's talk about the book itself.
Script writer Darren Close takes an interesting approach with Gangwar, rather than have the characters talk out the situation, that would be via speech bubbles for the comic challenged, he goes with a more mythical narrator thing, which kind of made me think that Close was perhaps build the legend of his character again before launching into a series of books, or a graphic novel, or for all I know some insane animated movie. We learn about the origins of Rufus, you get that this is the titular character right? - in so far as how he first appeared in urban legend. So no, for those wondering, we don't get the complete background check to how Rufus came to be, some things are best left to dinner table speculation in my opinion. Actually I reckon it was all to do with those bloody Poms and their outback nuclear testing, but guess we're not about to find out anytime soon. Anyways, the book presents as a narrator describing events from the past that have baffled various Government agencies, since we're right there via the panels we get to learn what actually went down. Close takes an almost "Dreamtime" mythical approach to his subject matter that works like a brought one in terms of rebooting the whole fandango, it's also a solid piece of writing that had me ripping through the pages like a West Australian quick through a NSW line-up. Probably the only downside of the approach, if we wanted to channel a chick moment, is that there is no room for emotion to enter the framework. Since the comic is all about the violence, that's a good thing in my sordid underdeveloped opinion. All you need to know is that Darren Close can write a pretty good script, his approach here absolutely perfect for the subject matter, and the possibility of Gangwar being a reboot.
[Editor's Note: Servo = Service Station, an Australian term for a petrol station. West Australian quick = a cricket term for our foreign readers. This has been a public service announcement].
Paul Abstruse takes art duties for the book and immediately is confronted by two issues. Firstly the script is pretty much all kinetic energy, the panels need to convey movement and action, and secondly the setting is a dark and stormy night, so representing rain is going to be a hurdle. Abstruse has our backs covered here, with excellent action filled panels that will almost have you believing the characters are in motion. The Artist is able to not only hit the kinetic requirements, but also has a knack of nailing the potential moments as we take a slight pause before diving headlong into the mayhem again. There's almost a cinematic quality going down here that must have taken quite some time to get happening successfully. You are going to have to scope the book to get the rain representation, hard to describe, it works yet retains a na´ve school quality that had me edging into Anime comparisons. I guess the only other thing I want to say about the excellent art, Paul Abstruse is a name to remember, is the lighting of what is meant to be a dark and stormy night, Abstruse has an almost horror movie aesthetic going down. The Artist hits the sort of vanishing point and light source origins that will have people who buy comics for the panels alone high fiving each other.
Paul Abstruse also hits the superb cover, a sort of menacing afterglow study in red that is both striking and quite likely to cause heart palpitations in the horror challenged.
Ozone Studios throw on a pretty decent package for those wondering. The covers are full colour, the paper weight is solid, and there are enough extras at the back of the comic to keep the entire Melbourne Nerd army happy with life. At $6 AUD we're talking pretty freaking good value here friends and neighbours. Two thumbs up to Ozone for the entirely professional and high standard approach being taken with the book.
Besides getting a really cool comic to read and marvel over, I also got to use the term "Anthropomorphic violence", thanks to Paul Abstruse for the wordage. Killeroo Gangwar is the sort of book that is going to ensure the local comic scene remains vibrant and a force to be reckoned with through the coming couple of years as it shows the locals can match if not outperform the more readily available North American product. Considering we can buy local comics at a fraction of the price of Northern imports we might just be on a winner here. I had a hell of a lot of fun with Killeroo Gangwar and simply loved the mythical approach taken to dialling up some Rufus background, fingers crossed there's plans afoot for a series of comics in the coming months. We all know that Darren Close just lives to do some inking. Full and frank recommendation, a comic that deserves a wide readership clambering for additional titles in the series, don't be left out at conventions when discussions turn to the Nullarbor Servo edition.
For local readers in major cities check your comic emporium, or if outside the urban sprawls or overseas hit Killeroo to find purchase options that best fit your requirements.