"Had we but known the grave repercussions it had ... " - Tina Gorgo
Tina Gorgo is the leader of a gang in a small U.S town circa 1962, unfortunately her gang isn't as cool as she thinks it is. With Lil' Susie, Gort, and her younger geek brother Theo comprising the gang they haven't exactly been ripping it up. However Theo loves comic books and the rest of the gang have found an unexploded nuclear bomb out in the desert. Naturally they all drive into the desert to check the bomb out and allow Theo first dibs on the unexploded munition. As night follows day the nuke naturally goes off with Theo at ground zero. Strangely the dude survives without a scratch on him, which is probably bad news in a dark genre comic.
The next day Theo notices he might just be mutating a tad, with the effect of radiation on the comic books he was carrying having diverse effects. Theo decides he can be a superhero as he mutants to match whatever he is feeling, the only side effect is Theo is a ticking time bomb just waiting on the right jolt to go off! Forget about the Cold War, the President and Soviet Premier have a larger problem just about to surface, or is it, queue the "dum da dum" music!
Frank Candiloro's latest venture into the surreal sort of hits on all those 1950s movies that were based around the notion that nuclear isn't the perfectly safe power source the Yank energy companies were claiming it to be at the time. There was deep set anxiety, not help by the then two Superpowers having enough nuclear missiles in the military silos to crack the planet wide open, that gave rise to about a zillion big bug movies, various apocalyptic visions, and of course the ever popular mutation caused by radiation. Candiloro simply dials into the general paranoia of the time to deliver a script that pretty much captures the feeling of the era. So yeah we are talking a retro comic here, but hey Chernobyl melted down in 1986 and we all know what that means, mutant cannibals - just go ask Wes Craven.
But just when you thought it might be safe to come out of the fallout shelter, Candiloro adds even more authenticity by having the story unfolding from the viewpoint of teenagers, and in this case a teenage gang of wannabe delinquents. I was half expecting the central characters to head down the malt shop at some stage! And yes that's another aspect of those old time movies, generally some teenage group would spot the mutant, alien, whatever creature radiation had created. Of course none of the adults would believe them, and its here that Candiloro deviates from expectations as Mail-Order Mutant runs off the rails and has the authorities only too aware of the apparent danger that the mutated Theo might poise. However as you probably expect the powers that be are less than impressive when it comes to delivering on the results, maybe they needed a young Clint Eastwood in a fighter jet armed with napalm?
Frank Candiloro delivers his most accessible script to date, this is pretty much a simple tale of difference, radiation mutation, and the dangers of comic books mixed with unexploded nuclear devices. Interestingly Theo is a member of a rebel group but remains outside that group much preferring to try and quench his insatiable demand for comics. When the whip comes down we're not talking the rise of a new toxic avenger here, Candiloro points out differences are not exactly to be tolerated in the dark genre, as John Wyndham put it "watch thou for the mutant!" Okay going to cut off the script analysis as I am edging into criticism here, suffice it to say that the plot rocks out and as usual Frank Candiloro takes things into a surreal nightmare environment.
The fifty pages of Mail-Order Mutant reflect Frank Candiloro's unique style, which Candiloro has been developing for a number of years. Guess the salient point here is Candiloro is one of the hardest working comic book creators in the business, his output is phenomenal but each comic issue retains a high professional standard. The art work sits somewhere in the German expressionist style, though I got the general feeling that Candiloro had edged it back slightly in the panels in this comic. Everything is clear and easy to follow with the art illustrating the script to an exceptionally good degree.
For those wondering, yes Mail-Order Mutant, there's a pun in the title, is a one shot. The script is told from the viewpoint of Tina Gorgo, and Candiloro deploys the flashback structure to show how we got to the current situation. About the only criticism that could be levelled at the comic, and we're picking at scabs here for the sake of being irritating, is that the 1960s sequences are illustrated in exactly the same fashion as the modern panels. Of course Frank Candiloro could just be pointing out that the more things change the more they stay the same. The mutant is still the mutant, and damned right it's on the endangered list, especially if it arrives illegally via boat.
After the intensity of Budd + Luu I was wondering if we had lost the Frank Candiloro of Millenial Monsters fame. Thankfully with Mail-Order Mutant Candiloro proves he hasn't lost the lighter side of his output. I was digging the comic throughout, who doesn't like mutant monsters, and had a wry grin on as the Author had a bit of a poke at the recent spate of superhero movies. I would recommend this comic to anyone reading who wants something to set the right mood as we enter 2014 and no doubt fresh horrors from the Abbott junta. Frank Candiloro once again impresses, one of the best comics to be released in 2013, Mail-Order Mutant is required reading folks.
To obtain a copy of Mail-Order Mutant dial your browser to Candiloro Central and for the low price of $8 AUD you will have the comic zooming toward your mailbox. If in Australia hit your local Comic store and demand a copy, if they don't have one mention you are prone to violence and are not leaving till they get one in, then just say to the sales clerk "Are you looking at me?".