Brimming with personality, Clankillers #1 kickstarts a rollicking and bloody war between Irish clans with absolute lunacy.
Well, **** me. Clankillers #1, the first issue of Sean Lewis’s new AfterShock series, is a thoroughly demented introduction to a world of mad kings, rebellious children, warring Irish clans, ancient deities and ****; Shakespeare on mescaline, if you like.
Padraig the Grotesque, aptly named, is cleaving a bloody swathe through the clans of Ireland in deference to the goddess Balor. His daughter, Finola, has legged it along with her chum, Cillian, who has fled the local monastery where the clergy revel in their pious playthings. To win the favour of the gods she despises, Finola needs to butcher the clans herself, including her father’s.
Clankillers #1 brims with a suitably nihilistic tone, weaving a bloody tale out of exaggerated Irish history, but cleverly focusing on the effect cruelty and violence has on children. The heroes, if they can be referred to as such, are petulant and naïve, making unsound decisions on childish impulses. It’s an odd, unsettling theme, and the mad, immature tone makes for compelling and faintly tragic reading.
The story of Clankillers #1 is theatrical, full of large characters and actions, but it’s pleasingly complex and offset by dark humour. Padraig lives up to his moniker, proving a menacing antagonist, but glimmers of a richer, more layered personality froth to the impatient surface. He could easily become a sympathetic figure; a loving father, a once-great man, exploited by those closest to him. But he could just as easily **** everyone up.
Chaos is deployed here as an art style, a narrative structure, an underlying theme and a historical backdrop. It isn’t always easy to tell who’s who and what’s what in Clankillers #1, but that’s half the point. Antonio Fuso’s artwork is stylised, brimming with personality, but rich too with an unwelcoming brutality and a frantic, anxious contour. Of all the new comics I’ve read this week, Clankillers #1 will stick with me the most.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.