KING! 1 & 2: A Grody New World / by David Anderson


Imagine if you took Hellboy, made him into an Elvis impersonator, gave him Duke Nukem's sense of humor and speech and dropped him into the trashy world of Borderlands. You've just imagined the plot of KING!, and while I may have just made it sound unoriginal as all hell, you should still read it because it's weirdly cathartic watching a giant dude in a pompadour haircut murder supernatural creatures with a shotgun. This weird homunculus was torn from the dirt by writer Thomas Hall and illustrator Daniel Bradford. "The King", as he's known, is a gruff bounty hunter. In order to fund his ability to sit on the couch in his underwear he takes odd jobs, mostly focused on killing otherworldly monsters that terrorize whoever is unfortunate enough to exist in space and time.

I'm pretty comfortable with how minimalist the plot is. I don't know if this is actually Elvis or just a dude who likes his style. I guess he's a former luchador or something, but beyond that I have no idea who he really is. The demons and zombies he fights in the moldy hotels and saloons he frequents lead me to believe this is either a post-apocalyptic world or just present day Nevada. Until they reveal more about how he ended up living in a world where demon slaying is a lucrative career move, I won't be able to get answers to those questions. But you know what? Who cares, because the action is more than enough to entertain.

King himself is a pretty entertaining caricature, spouting off about Hailing to the King, Baby and all that. All he's here to do is kick ass and chew bubble gum, and there is an insufficient supply of aforementioned bubble gum. It's no more complicated than that. Simplicity, then, is the word of the day for the writing; there's a lot more showing than there is telling, which is great. The dialogue is short and to the point, and if you don't know what they're talking about, you'll probably find the answer in the pictures. There does seem to be a larger, more sinister plot in the works, but so far the only person complaining about it is a horrifying little heart that has rotary blades and robotic legs.

The art is pretty good too. Simple, but able to amp up the detail mainly through thick/thin dark lines. I love a style that can do grungy and grimy really well. None of these characters are pretty by any means. King is a slob who is introduced to us in his tighty whiteys, just to show us what kind of world he lives in. Everything is brown or black, men and women look like they were carved from rock or rotten floorboards, and money just looks like it was cannibalized from the remains of a bathroom. The zombies might be cleaner than King's wife-beater, and this dirty style works great with the action. Fighting scenes are fast, gory and pretty kinetic. People are flying around from a smack to the face, and visual effects are as simple in shape and detail as characters. It's got a little bit of humor thrown in too. The panels below were pretty funny to me because of how they depict a severely abridged fight scene.

I think there's a lot of good things to look forward to in this series if you like mindless violence. Maybe we've already got enough historical figures running around murdering monsters RE: Abraham Lincoln and FDR in upcoming movies, but what's one more? At least buy it for the art style. The disgustingly pretty art style.

TL;DR: KING! isn't exactly deep, but you're here to watch Elvis blow up giant shambling blobs of flesh in gruesome fashion and a pleasing art style. What's wrong with that?

KING! is written by Thomas Hall and illustrated by Daniel Bradford. Published by Blacklist Studios, it's a four issue series with issues 1 & 2 currently available. You can check out the "retailers" section of their website for a list of comic shops that currently carry their titles and ordering information for your LCS.

Review copies of KING! were graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.