Review: Killtopia #2 (BHP Comics)

The first issue of Dave Cook and Craig Paton’s dystopian blockbuster Killtopia was justifiably part of our top 10 comics of 2018 and so we are thrilled to get the follow up issue that continues to build on the epic world of the debut.

Publisher: Card Shark Comics
Writer: Dave Cook
Artist: Craig Paton
Price: £8.99 from BHP Comics

Set in a near future Japanese mega city where ‘wrecker’s’ hunt down rogue mechs for money and fame, the first issue of Killtopia followed the story of Shinji, a trainee wrecker who encounters Crash the first sentient mech. With superstar wreckers, Yakuza gangs and android killers on their trail, Shinji must escape from Killtopia and save Crash while he also tries to save his sister.

After the bombastic introduction of the first issue, Killtopia #2 is a much more considered and slower paced read. It still features all the fantastic elements which made Killtopia such a great book – outlandish characters, all powerful mechs and a smart sense of humour – but this issue is much more about consolidating the concepts we met in the first issue rather than adding in a whole load more. (Although we do get to meet a sinister robotic assassin!)

The story begins by introducing us to the back story of the pilot of the King Kaiju wrecker, and how he was sold into slavery by his family and raised to be the pilot of his mech. It’s an unsettling look at the character’s tragic origin, and the power that corporations hold in Killtopia. It really helps to flesh out the world of Killtopia and it’s politics, making the book into much more than just the story of Shinji and his talking robot.

In fact, this notion of fleshing out the world of Killtopia is what issue 2 is all about. As well as learning more about Kaiju Cola we also discover more about Stilleto, Killtopia’s champion wrecker. By learning about her background and her motivation (especially in the aftermath of a confrontation with Crash which sees her fans start to doubt her) we see the character begin to become much more rounded and more than simply a neon glasses wearing bad ass female wrecker. We see her flaws and weaknesses as well as her strengths, and this help makes her a much more interesting character as a result.

While the story for this issue is perhaps slower and less action packed than the first, it is very much needed. While this issue may not be as immediate for new readers, (just pick up #1 as well if you are new to the series!) as part of a longer form narrative it is perfectly paced. On first reading we thought this issue lacked a bit of something as it was not as immediately enjoyable as the first. But having read it a couple of times now, we can see this was all about getting ‘ducks in a row’ for the remaining issue in the series as much as it was about telling an out and out epic in one issue. There is still a solid story in this issue, but it feels like it is more about the bigger picture.

Visually, Killtopia continues to be an astounding piece of work. Paton’s artwork channels the high detail of Frank Quitely and Geof Darrow, as well as being inspired by Japanese video games, manga and movies. You can see nods to Akira with the motorbikes or Oldboy with a particular hammer based fight scene, and the whole thing has a slickness and a distinct style to it which hangs together brilliantly. The neon colours make every page feel like a cyberpunk city skyline, and again Paton uses clever layouts to tell the story, including several pages which look like they could be schematics for video game levels.

Paton’s work continues to be intricate and packed with personality, and he and Cook are clearly revelling in filling every page and panel with the maximum detail and in jokes galore. Which is what makes this such an engaging read, yet it is never done to the detriment of the overall story.

Killtopia continues to be a shining beacon in small press/indie comics, that is reaching for the neon coloured skies and aiming to be as good as anything released by a major publisher. And based on the first two issues, it is doing just that!