Killeroo: GANGWARS #4
OZONE STUDIOS | 64 pages B&W
Editors: Darren Close & RW Adams
Cover: Camillo Di Pietrantonio & Graeme Jackson
Variant: Louie Joyce
Firstly, I take my hat off to Darren Close and Ryan Wilton for assembling the talent contained in this series, and compiling it into a cohesive collection of stories about the life of Killeroo.
I’m impressed by the mix of different styles and narrative, which gives this book an experimental and alternative comic feel. The seemingly random nature of the stories makes the book unpredictable from story to story, but by the end brings it all together into a cohesive chapter of the GANGWARS saga.
These credits are for the book as a compilation but the individual stories, moving forward, I’ll review each story individually:
Writer: Tim Stiles | Artist: Trevor Wood
This story follows a couple of young intrepid reporters on the trail of the Killer Roo – a beast that has been sighted in the remote outback roads of South Australia. Travelling from town to town, Daniel and his camera assistant are eager to interview local eyewitnesses, and quickly discover how varied and outrageous these accounts can be. The experience transforms this confident young student into a more cynical and unhinged individual.
There’s a different feeling to this story, told from the perspective of the news camera and it is chronicled as the raw footage of the camera operator, Kirsten. There’s quite a bit of humor – from slapstick and overly exaggerated stories of young boys, to lewd waitresses and the bizarre and quite deluded musings of a mad scientist. I really enjoyed this story.
Writer: Soon Van | Artist: Colin Wells
This one follows the “outsiders not welcome” theme – what you’d expect from a motorbike gang, really. Colin Wells’ art is more traditional and less cartoony than the previous story, the shading and detail gives a rougher look, reflecting the young recruit’s attitude and utter disregard for his own life. This story is all about perception and a need to be validated, but trust and loyalty from a gang like Rufus’ must be earned. It’s a short story at only 6 pages, but a good follow on to show the more mundane side of the gang – through the eyes of an outsider.
BALLAD OF THE HIGHWAY BUTCHER
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay | Artist: Louie Joyce
Of all the stories in this anthology, this is the story more out of left field. This tale by Lindsay was more akin to a horror story than adventure, with an emphasis on the bizarre. For all intents and purposes this shouldn’t really work, but through great storytelling and art we get a sense of how Rufus’ existence is a threat to rival gangs, which leads to an inevitable escalation in how they do things.
Right from the first page we get a sense of what’s at stake, and the lengths people will go to. There’s a really eerie tone to this, and Joyce’s art creates a mood and tone akin to Dr. Moreau’s island. The fanaticism of the Highway Butcher is made clear in his resolve and how he views his work. This is a mad scientist, who is using the threat of the Killeroo to justify his barbarism towards his fellow man.
If I had to choose a favourite story in this book (and quite possible in the whole series) this would definitely be in short list.
Writer: Simon McDonald | Artist: Adam Rose
This is the longest story in this issue, and follows up on several of the supporting characters introduced in previous issues, being Ben and Jock. We saw that Ben was a plant within the group, sent there as a spy to keep tabs on Rufus and his gang – and Jock’s suspicions of this since he joined the Outback Warriors. There’s some great twists & turns to this story, with Ben desperate not to blow his cover and the lengths he will go to that end.
It’s clear that while Rufus is still the star of the show, his gang members are not just passengers, but characters in their own right – I’m curious to see if there will be further repercussions from this story in subsequent issues.
ANGELS AND DEMONS
Writer & Artist: RW Adams
This was a perfect ending to the preceding stories, as it gives us some insight into the spiritual side of the character and his link to the Dreamtime. We’re introduced to the “Orani”, a spirit guide tasked with protecting the world of the living. His internal narrative is very spiritual and forceful with purpose, and juxtaposed by his very casual and playful conversation with Rufus. I really enjoyed this story, and I think if you will to if you like your stories with a bit of a supernatural flavour.
In regards to the overall production, I found that the lettering for all of these stories was great – it’s largely unnoticeable, which is the mark of a good letterer. The use of the same font throughout the anthology brings a cohesion to the stories, and the differentiation of Rufus’ dialogue in a different font really emphasises his other-worldly nature.
The layout of the book throughout has a very standard comic feel to it, and is printed on a nice paper stock. The great cover (by Camillo Di Pietrantonio & Graeme Jackson) jumps off the shelf, and gives the feeling that you’re about to get a face-full of outback dirt.
All in all – a very Aussie story that captures the lifestyle of the 70s and 80s (that is a F@#%$ GIVEN).