by Max Bemis, Logan Faerber and Manuel Tumburus
The premise of Oh Killstrike was very silly from the start. Take an exaggerated amalgamation of the superhero or action star of nineties comics and have him come to life to partner with the grown up version of readership at the time. Bemis introduced this book as a commentary on the recent history of comics, the dark years of the late nineties and what has transpired since. Oh Killstrike aimed to find a way to be a satire of those books, while telling its own story along the way. In this fourth, and final issue, Bemis attempts to find a conclusion and take away to this premise and manages to do that and much more.
Coming into the issue, there seemed to be a number of plot threads that still needed to be addressed. Jared had left his family at home and was showing just how poor of a father and partner he was. Killstrike required vengeance of some sort, and Jared needed to meet and somehow make peace with his father. In addition, the story needed to find a conclusion that also wrapped up the commentary Bemis was crafting about the industry itself. What was unclear was that Bemis’s construction of that amount of narrative needing to be compressed into a final issue was its own nod to comics and their need to find resolution to both emotional plot threads as well as the present threat or conflict in two dozen pages. The final issue is able to not only accomplish this, but address the convoluted and strange ways that so many big hero storylines do just the same to somewhat find closure even if it means stretching pretty far in order to do so.
Logan Faerber and Manuel Tumburus take their exaggerated construction of comics to the extreme here as Bemis introduces readers to “Dark Killstrike.” The book spirals into a gratuitous fight sequence wherein Jared must don a spandex suit and become the hero he has read about for decades. The depiction of the new version of Killstrike is fantastic, as is the ensuing battle that blows out walls, smashes cars, and even finds a way to arm Jared with a gun twice his size. Faerber and Tumburus are a great pair and they infuse the book with so much visual comedy. At one point, Killstrike has to read something for Jared, and much like seeing him on an airplane, watching the gargantuan creature don a pair of glasses is pretty fantastic. Even the shift in pencils and coloring for the scenes featuring Jared’s father and his quest make for a good bit of fun.
What started out as a nice bit of fun being poked at the comic book industry turned out to be an incredibly impressive and well-balanced commentary that brought the reader through the same journey as Jared faced himself. Bemis, in many ways, does for comics here what Scream did for horror movies. The book is able to address, mock, but also use the overly exhausted tropes from the medium to great effect and reach a resolution that has both Jared and the reader come to terms with what comics mean to them. The nineties may have been a strange and silly time, but there was a lot to love and no one should feel bad about it. Bemis, Faerber and Tumburus are due a lot of credit for such an excellent project.