REVIEW: Freak Out Squares – Issue #1

A comical take on the decadence of controlled society, Harry French’s Freak Out Squares radiates a light-hearted Monty Python-esque bizarreness through the grim context of its story. This first issue opens with legions of fans queuing up to watch sex-crazed rock-god Johnny Orion give another spell-binding performance. Outside the venue where Johnny’s performing, Harrison dishes out the latest Johnny Orion fanzine – Orion’s Belt.

The show kicks off, as does Orion when his stomach violently disintegrates revealing an android interior, while Harrison walks off into the distance, away from the gig, but not before the whole venue spontaneously explodes. What follows on from this is the tale of how this world is controlled by those who create artificial androids to keep the peace to younger citizens. This is done by these androids being idols, like Johnny Orion, created to give a false sense of revolution. Our boy Harrison is out there to destroy as many androids as possible and turn this world order on its head.

The opening chapter is gloriously riddled in pop culture pastiche – something of a homage to the whole concept of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character, another sex-crazed rock-god who descends to Earth to deliver a message of peace and hope. Imagine if Bowie did a follow up to The Spiders from Mars that revealed Ziggy was just a pawn in an evil government’s dictatorship! (Right yeah, as opposed to a good government’s dictatorship (!))

Garry Mac’s artwork and Harry Saxon’s colours give the comic plenty of air, with sketch-like drawings and bare colours that balance out the eccentric set-up of the plot. There are moments however when the artwork appears to be dated, such as the fashion and hairstyles. Ironic as this comic, with outlandish clothes, laser guns, and floating buildings named ‘6th Monk Omni-Dimensional Temple of Self-Reflection and Recovery, is presumably set in the future.

But of course in other respects, it all adds to the rock star references. Johnny Orion himself looks like a hangover from the 1970’s, resplendent beefed-up afro, fluffy pink jacket and sparkling blue pants. He even bears a blue streak of paint strewn across his face not dissimilar to how Bowie appears on the cover of Aladdin Sane.

Overall, this first issue offers a tantalizing glimpse into an insane world of decadence, violence, and is a decent pastiche of the overblown rock star ego. The final page depicting Harrison clutching a decapitated head that delivers the comic’s final punch line is particularly amusing.

Have you read the first issue of Freak Out Squares? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a tweet!

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Fred McNamara