Jet City Comics hits the new comics rack with Joshua Hale Fialkov and Bernard Chang’s “King” #1. With colors from Marcelo Maiolo and lettering by Deron Bennett, this inaugural chapter — titled “I Hate Mondays” — has a feeling most readers can relate to, but a sentiment that is especially potent for King, the titular protagonist of this new series.
As King himself puts it, “Story goes that the worst nightmares of the world all came true.” King refers to that event (or series of events) as “The Fall” throughout the issue. The depth of the cataclysm and the incredible aftermath becomes immediately apparent from the second King steps off his porch into a bizarre mishmash of imagery and wild concepts, which fill the pages from edge-to-edge and top-to-bottom. From that double-page collection of chameleon-man vendors and trashcans filled with skulls, “King” #1 is a true collaboration between the quartet of creators.
Maiolo casts a thick haze over the setting. That haze is a type of sunlit prism augmented by seemingly non-existent cloud cover, which reminds you there is simply no such thing as too much sunscreen. On that page, Maiolo also delivers his stark, signature duotone, as King has to deal with an attacker and does so in a fatal manner. Bennett checks in with six words, three of each in two styles and four sound effects that punctuate the flow of Chang’s storytelling.
Through Chang’s art, draped in Fialkov’s story and measured out in beats by Bennett’s captions, readers meet King as he prepares for and makes his way to work. Putting his shirt on and tying his shoes like the rest of us, King opens the door and starts on his commute to the Los Angeles Department of Reclamation armed with a sword and shield, as you do in post-apocalyptic situations. Because it’s all the rage with the kids these days, King is also equipped with a Walkman.
Along the way, Fialkov challenges Chang and also opens the door for the artist to express himself. Whether it’s drawing up King’s neighbor Blarh or populating the pages with hybrids (also referred to as “Crossfreaks”), karate robot bears, basketball-uniform-wearing, co-worker eating pterodactyl oddities or alien-squid-infected gods, Chang pours out all kinds of fun into the story.
Together with Fialkov and polished through the efforts of Maiolo and Bennett, Chang absolutely fills this book with the type of raw, energetic doodlings one might expect in a sketchbook or throughout the margins of an artistically-inclined, ridiculously-bored high school student’s notebook. Every panel informs the reader about the world, but at no point does the issue overload the reader with exposition. Rather, Fialkov and Chang invite the reader to come on in, have a look around, check some stuff out and take as long as you like.
I’m not sure what the publishing plan is for “King,” but Fialkov, Chang, Maiolo and Bennett have given me enough with “King” #1 to know I want more. My familiarity with the character is only twenty-two pages deep, but Fialkov constructs a believably reactionary survivor in a world every bit as bizarre as anything in “Secret Wars” or “Convergence,” minus all of the history and license-driven restrictions. This is a brand new world where anything can happen and Fialkov, Chang, Maiolo and Bennett are just the team to make it happen.