Killtopia by Dave Cook/Craig Paton/Robin Jones/Ludwig Olimba
Shinji is a wrecker, he scours the forbidden Killtopia hunting grounds looking for salvage from rogue, diseased mechs. Technology is building the city – terraforming mechs using nano tech for industry and agriculture. The same technology is killing humanity – nanotech is being consumed by humans who succumb to ‘the rot’ – unable to heal themselves as the nanos terraform their bodies. But Shinji is not one of the superstar bounty-hunters like Stiletto. He can’t afford expensive kit. He can barely afford a can of Kaiju Cola and the meds for his rot-infested sister. No cut of the merch or media profile for him. Shinji has to rely on his skills and his luck.
When he encounters a sentient mech – whom he later nicknames Crash – his luck changes. The mech is not only the first to develop sentience, he could be the key to literally stopping the rot. Of course there are others who have an interest in this development. Yakuza crime lords and high-profile bounty-hunters are soon on his trail.
When humans ingest them the nanos start to terraform their insides as fast as they can heal. It means the majority of people in the city are literally being torn apart from the inside every hour of the day.
Killtopia is a fresh take on one of the most successful and beloved tropes in British comics – the sprawling mega-city in an all-too possible future. The inspiration of 2000 A.D. is clear – Judge Dredd and Mega City One most obviously but also other strips like The Mean Arena and Harlem Heroes. The resemblance is as much in the humour and eccentricity as the look which owes more to Neo-Tokyo – the eternal futuristic metropolis of a thousand manga and anime, notably Akira, and the neon-lit intensity of Bladerunner.
Dave Cook‘s worldbuilding is quite something – with a broad cast of characters introduced, some for only a panel and the history of the city outlined without sledgehammer exposition. No mean feat. What I loved was the obvious love of the medium – and the storytelling techniques that only work in comics – like the recurring Watchmen-style appearance of the Kaiju Cola brand.
Visually the striking art of Craig Paton captures the aesthetic of a crumbling Japanese city of the future perfectly. Killtopia depicts a city blurring the lines between flesh and machine and the fluid art style fits this perfectly. Fewer straight lines, more Mœbius curves. Metal becoming organic and flesh becoming tech. City scenes in particular are laden with detail. Vending machines and stalls, 3D projections, all desires catered for and terrible events on the rooftops. The detail brings to mind Geoff Darrow‘s work on comics like Hard Boiled.
The colour palette of the city is drenched in neon pink and purple – evoking eternal but sleepless night. The sewers green, dark and mossy.
This is another strong book from BHP Comics and I can’t wait to read the next installment of Killtopia. The Kickstarter for issue 2 is live now.
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