A slight step down from the first issue, Clankillers #2 is nonetheless a darkly funny and unique continuation of AfterShock’s Irish fantasy.
The nutty story of ancient Irish clans, kings and gods continues in AfterShock’s Clankillers #2, which maintains many positive qualities of the stellar first issue. It’s still lightning-quick, funny, and bizarre. But it might not be bizarre enough.
That’s a weird criticism, so do allow me to explain. While the first issue found a strange, mesmerising tone in young characters performing unspeakable acts on childish whims, it also maintained a manic, oddball energy that has been lost slightly in Clankillers #2. As the story settles into a more manageable rhythm here, the slight decrease in weirdness highlights some thin characterisation.
King Padraig’s daughter, Finola, remains a compelling figure, but Clankillers #2 doesn’t afford her much space to explain her motivations. Her father is nakedly despicable, but the lack of insight in this regard leaves her feeling slightly one-dimensional; she’s an unusual avatar for cold-blooded vengeance, but at this point she’s still an avatar for cold-blooded vengeance and not much else.
What makes Finola’s quest more interesting is the possibility that her sisters, Reagan and Una, might have had a hand in it – or at least that they wouldn’t be all that bothered if it succeeds. They’re shown in Clankillers #2 to be slightly more rebellious than the first issue suggested, and that’s an interesting angle for the story to take given its insistence on characterising King Padraig as moderately sympathetic.
I’m still not sure I buy the angle that this guy is redeemable, but I appreciate the effort; hopefully in subsequent issues Finola and her partner-in-crime, Cillian, will be afforded the same. But despite lamenting some of the writing’s lack of function, I still really like Sean Lewis’s style and tone here. There are some great throwaway lines and interactions in Clankillers #2, and the regular deployment of dark humour remains a strong point.
The hectic pace does take some tension out of the action; an early escape scene in Clankillers #2 is barely recognisable as such until the next few panels confirm it. But the book’s unique aesthetic works well, and the weird mythology is a real selling point. The extended sequence in which Finola and Cillian hijack a headless horseman’s carriage was great, macabre fun, and it’s that kind of thing which makes the book stands out as a particularly unique offering. If the storytelling gets tightened up over the next few issues, it’ll be one that shouldn’t be missed.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.