Flying Bears! Cave Women! Vampires in the Asda car park! Yes, the long-awaited Shaky Kane and Krent Able collaboration Kane & Able (of course) is here but are you ready for it?
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Shaky Kane and Krent Able
Artist: Shaky Kane and Krent Able
I recently wrote a review for the really rather wonderful I Feel Love anthology that Krent Able contributed to, describing Krent’s story Black Balloon as “perhaps the most bizarre comic strip I have ever read. I may have been somewhat premature. There’s one scene in this collection when a fetishistic super-villain who has fused an entire town into one fleshy creatures is sliced in half by a super-powered flying bear wielding a chainsaw that made me rethink that earlier judgement. Kane & Able is a collection of brand-new strips by the eponymous creators that, as we used to say, are recommended for mature readers but there’s a sheer love for comics of the past here too, particularly for the Golden and Silver Age.
Shaky Kane has been cutting his idiosyncratic path through the world of comics for over three decades now. I’ve followed Shaky’s work from Deadline and Revolver, through Judge Dredd, Doom Patrol, Bulletproof Coffin, Last Driver and beyond. Shaky is a true comics auteur with a singular if twisted vision. In Shaky’s world Dalek-headed aliens enforce the law of God, Galactus shops at Tesco and Dannii Minogue is more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Shaky’s work is equally inspired and horrified by popular culture. Familiar motifs reoccur here in Kane & Able including characters readers will be familiar with from Bulletproof Coffin, also published by Image. Shaky’s work here somewhat resembles the film Paris, Texas if it had been directed by David Lynch and Roger Corman and story-boarded by Jack Kirby and Edward Hopper. As an industry veteran, the scenes with “Stan” and “Jack” (as well as a cameo from Shaky himself) make it very clear how he feels about creator rights too. This is definitely weapons grade Kane here and all the better for it.
If the spirit of Jack Kirby in all his mad glory (Devil Dinosaur anyone?) is present in Shaky’s strips Krent Able goes further back to the Golden Age to bring back public domain weirdos Nightmare and Sleep. The story Creepzone has the not-so dynamic duo sent by Control (a green-skinned witch straight out of Tales from the Crypt) to investigate “a vortex breech with a possible vampire infestation” located in, where else, the Asda car park. The mix of the mundane and the fantastical is both unnerving and hilarious. Krent’s art is a joy. Not only are there EC influences here (specifically Jack Davis and Wally Wood) the super-hero parody Who Fears the Death-Roach? is Silver Age with more than a pinch of Crumb, at times reminiscent of Alan Moore’s 1963. As with Black Balloon, the strips by Krent Able in this collection are not for the faint of heart or stomach but if David Cronenberg is more your cup of tea than David Attenborough then you’ll feel right at home here.
The title Kane & Able obviously has Biblical connotations. Seeing as the original story this collection is based on gave us both the first murderer and the first murder victim, this anthology with its chain-smoking and bug-headed superheroes, its flesh-melting villains and chainsaw-swinging bears is certainly appropriately named. If you like B-Movies, cheap thrills, fast cars and jet packs then open a can of dinosaur ale and enjoy the ride!