The new comic from writer/artist Bruno Stahl (Spacewarp/Heavy Metal) opens with a quote from Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be: now is the time of monsters”. This might sound like the book is going to be heavy going but Boom Bandits is a fun, barn-storming romp with more than a hint of Deadline or early 2000AD
Publisher: Helldunkel Studios
Writer/Artist: Bruno Stahl
Price: £5 from Bruno’s online store
Boom Bandits is set in a familiar- looking dystopian future (think Judge Dredd, Blade Runner etc) where the older generations, the Boomers, have used their wealth and good fortune to develop technology that keeps them alive and in charge forever. Everyone else lives in a run-down sector called Scarcity. The story starts with a couple of Boomers being taken on a guided tour of one of the poorest areas in much the same way as wealthy Victorians would take afternoon tea in Bedlam.
As both writer and artist, Stahl creates an action-packed thirty page story which manages to make some heartfelt comments about the generational divide (Stahl describes himself as “a bloody millennial” in the blurb at the end) whilst still giving the reader a funny and exciting story that ends up with a cyborg fighting a giant robot. Stahl’s art is the real standout here, at times reminiscent of a young Alan Davis (think D.R. and Quinch or Harry on the High Rock) at other times bringing to mind Sean Murphy (particularly Tokyo Ghost). The fact that the book is black and white coupled with Stahl’s use of humour and over-the-top visuals add to the retro feel, suggesting early Dredd, The Sleeze Brothers or Death’s Head.
Stahl’s paints with broad brush strokes here. It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch that the Boomers choose to call their home the Methuseland Citadel. The rebels do all seem to be very old fashioned as well for representations of a futuristic youth culture. They celebrate a victory over a Boomer attack by yelling “We’ve got a rave to attend to” and then go and watch a punk band complete with Mohican haircuts. It all feels a bit 1976 rather than Brave New World.
That being said there are lots of reasons to give Boom Bandits a go. There are a sea of characters here but the central protagonist is actually a little girl called Pixie who, for reasons unknown, is mentally linked to the very technology that’s been used to wipe out the rebels. It’s an interesting idea that I’m sure will be developed in future issues. Stahl wears his influences on his sleeve but they are great influences. If you are a fan of The Matrix, Warriors or Akira then there’s something for you here. Also the killer cyborg designed to kill the youngsters who are plotting to overthrow the Boomers is the wonderfully-named Youthaniser which Stahl gets bonus points for!
Boom Bandits is a big, brash comic full of fights, satire and showcases some great art. It might be treading on familiar ground but it does so with a sense of fun, excitement, wit and desire to shake things up. If you’re a regular visitor to the mean streets of Mega City One or Neo-Tokyo you’ll probably enjoy the world of the Boom Bandits.