The latest from Killtopia’s Dave Cook and artist Steve Gregson is an over-the-top homage to 90s side scrolling beat-em-ups, Hong Kong cinema and classic anime!
BPM is a delightfully daft, action-packed romp of a comic should appeal to anyone who spent their formative years in an arcade, video store or dingy bedroom staring at a Sega Megadrive! In this debut outing we meet Maya, a female super cop who has a tendency to get her partners into epic street battles! When she goes to take down the sinister ‘Syndicate’, things don’t end up going well and in the aftermath of this epic showdown our heroine goes on a reunion rampage with her martial arts buddies, only to have the world go crazy thanks to some dodgy kaiju cola left over from Dave’s other book!
If you are a fan of classic beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage, anime like Akira or Hong Kong movies like A Better Tomorrow then there is plenty to get your teeth into here, as this is clearly Dave’s fanboy love letter to all those genres of Asian action! From the over-the-top action sequences, to the painfully self-aware and self-referential characters, right the way through to crazy move names it’s like a who’s who of 90s action sub genres on every page.
Dave makes the most of all the best cliches of the genre, from the sleazy villain to the family man partner out for one more job. The action levels burst through the roof and it channels every kind of popcorn, pop culture action extravaganza into one almighty melee of mayhem. For dedicated fans there are plenty of Easter eggs tucked into every panel, but for those who aren’t super obsessive this is still a lot of fun as so many of those cliches have made their way into the mainstream consciousness.
Visually artist Gregson does a great job bringing the world to life with a slick anime infused style which keeps up with Cook’s million and one ideas. He does a great job of creating a really fun and over the top style that goes well with the subject. However, if we were being super critical we would say the artwork does not feel quite as polished as Killtopia or even Dave’s other book Vessels. It has a bit of an ‘indie feel’ to it with some of the finishing and characterisation feeling a bit loose and not quite up there with similar style artists like the Reckless Hero crew. The same can be true of the story-telling which never quite manages to step out of the shadow of its homages in order to create its own identity. Something which Killtopia does so well.
Fortunately, all this doesn’t detract from the energy and passion of everyone involved in this comic. While it might not always be the most polished or perfectly paced, it is very readable and a lot of fun – so for that treason, it does exactly the job which it is intended to do.
So if you like the idea of a video tape inspired mash up of Streets of Rage, Hard Boiled and Fist of the North Star in comic book form (all that’s missing is a Celtic Frost trailer sound track!) then it’s time to power up and get punching!