By Joe Glass
Post-apocalypses, wasteland futures and the end times are not new ground in comics. In fact, they're a fairly popular setting, and you can find a multitude of variations on the theme…it's a fun sandbox to play in, after all. Trust me, as a writer, it's hard to stay away from the notion. But you often try and hold back until you have that perfect, 'different' take on the end of the world.
Well, there is a book out there that has found that perfect, original Armageddon, and damn it, it's a good one.
The Kill Screen takes a really interesting concept: the end of the world came not in the form of killer fungi, undead biological nightmares or nuclear threats gone too far…instead, it's kind of a computer virus. With a twist. And what an ingenious twist it is.
You see, when the Kill Screen event occurs, it doesn't affect computers…it affects people and the 'real' world. Suddenly, without reason, all those glitches, all those tropes of video games, all those internet memes, all those cats (!) start happening in reality and the world is thrown into chaos. After all, technology, the carrier of this plague, is everywhere. It surrounds us. It's part of our lives on such an intrinsic level, we're even starting to wear it…some are even making it part of them.
When I first read The Kill Screen #1, my first reaction was 'dammit, that Mike Garley bugger beat me to an incredible idea! If only I'd come up with that!' It's incredible, because it lends itself to a quite oddly frightening concept (I mean, think about it, what if you were walking down the street and you all of a sudden Skyrim'd, and shot up thousands of feet into the stratosphere for no reason at all…the world just 'glitched') that is also actually, honestly, quite funny.
You find yourself at times, in both the first issue, and the new The Kill Screen #2: Cascade, amidst the horror and struggle of the end of the world, it finds ways to make you smirk or titter, or even, dare I say it, LOL. There's a particular gag in issue 2 involving a certain rainbow-farting internet feline that honestly made me smile and grimace all at once.
Cascade does an awful lot to expand on the world after The Kill Screen #1's more claustrophobic set up, literally bringing us out into the world, and setting up different groups and 'styles' of survivors, including a new danger to the world. It sets this up brilliantly, and in such a way that you can actually read this second issue without reading the first and it still would make sense and be a fun read.
All this is of course helped by art from Josh Sherwell, which fits wonderfully with the world, and the finishing touches of gaming world tropes infecting the real world are a wonderful touch. Mike Stock's lettering, as ever, is also superb, as everything is clear, distinct, and designed to create a beautiful finished package.
The Kill Screen#2: Cascade is a fantastic read, with an incredibly original concept, and it's not coming from the Big Two or Image, but from the UK Indie Small Press scene. You have to get your hands on it however you can!
The Kill Screen#2: Cascade is available from this Saturday, launching at Leamington Comic Con this weekend and followed the next day at Scardiff, the one-day horror con in Cardiff for just £4. It will also be available from the teams online store, along with issue one which is also now on Comixology.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor, and creator/writer of LGBTQ superhero team comic The Pride, which is available on Comixology and at The Pride Store. He is also a co-writer on Welsh horror-comedy series, Stiffs, which can be bought at the Stiffs Store and is now also available on Comixology. You can follow him on twitter and tumblr.