Well, London Film and Comic-Con was a bit of a bumpy experience for me. I don’t do well in crowds or heat, and I don’t believe Olympia was the best location to hold the event since it was so small and only had one puny staircase to get up to the upper floors. What were they thinking? But some positives came out of it – I got to meet the creators of the comic book The Kill Screen – a delightfully creative series set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity was nearly wiped out by an incident called the Kill Screen and now everything digital can alter reality and infect people with glitch-like viruses. It’s like that Pixels movie but better. The comic was created by Mike Garley, illustrated by Josh Sherwell, and lettered by Mike Stock. I had the pleasure of having my issue signed by Mr. Garley and got a free bookmark.
In this exciting issue, we begin two years ago shortly after the initial outbreak of the Kill Screen. Armed soldiers storm a supermarket and start gunning down anyone using an electronic device. Turns out whoever is using a phone or the like will be infected by the Kill Screen’s digital, glitch-inducing virus. The men discover the mastermind responsible for all of this: CATS – based on the badguy from the infamous video game Zero Wing, known for its clunky Engrish translation. CATS guns down the soldiers only to revive them using his magic glitch powers into… well, I like to call them “Metapod Heads”. Basically his minions are revived and their heads become encased in pointed green armour resembling the icon of The Sims.
Jumping back to the present day, our small group of heroes have taken shelter of a fancy boat called The Spartan. Our main hero Chris and fellow survivor Max head off to get supplies and ammo from a friend Chris refers to as “Wheels”. We also meet the team pet, a cat named Nine-Lives, who can’t seem to avoid getting stepped on. We discover Wheels is in fact a disabled mechanic named Barret who is the group’s go-to-guy for supplies. They discuss their past encounters with the Followers, a radical cult who have ties to CATS. By pure coincidence, a gang of Followers led by CATS himself happen to be standing right outside the warehouse door. Armed with deadly phones!
This chapter explores the world of The Kill Screen a little more, shedding some light on CATS’ origins, though the actual Kill Screen itself remains a mystery. Admittedly there isn’t a lot of character development in the issue, and the second half gives way to a heavy load of exposition. CATS is an interesting character, and hopefully he’ll develop a bit more in future issues. The issue lacks the video game references, but rather ups the ante on the nightmare fuel, particularly with the Followers and influence CATS has over them; not to mention the freaky transformations his minions go through.
As with the past issues, the comic has a fantastic art style, perfectly combining the realistically drawn humans with the colourful but disturbing pixels. There is a great moment when the Followers throw a mobile phone at the good guys which acts like a grenade which explodes when it connects to the internet. The pixelated explosion is pretty cool. I still don’t know how they create this unique art style, but I like it. The third issue of The Kill Screen is as fun as the past issues, and is both well-written and well-designed. I do wish the issues came out a bit quicker, but this series is being created by three men alone so it understandably takes some time.
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