By Alex de Campi, Tony Parker, and Blond
Set during the Cold War, the new five-issue series Mayday, kicks off with a murderous acid trip full of nudity, violence and espionage. Despite the set up, the story itself, by Alex de Campi (Archie vs. Predator), is pretty straight forward, as is the art, neither of which deserve much criticism. It’s written well enough, but as a premiere issue there’s something lacking. There isn’t a single likable character introduced in all of issue #1. There’s no protagonist, no one to root for, no hero, and not even a victim worth saving. The characters feel dirty, which is at times literal. It’s fine to make a realistic comic, where no one is a genuinely good guy, but give us a reason to keep reading at least. By the conclusion of issue #1 we are left wondering what the hook is supposed to be, outside of some shocking deeds by amoral agents and Russian patriots.
There is a sequence depicting a literal drug induced romp in the desert that is, at least visually, worthy of some praise and may be a trademark of Mayday as a series. The artwork in particular, by Tony Parker (This Damned Band) and colored by Blond (New Suicide Squad), during this scene is a spectacle of color and movement that does a nice job of injecting emotion and feeling into the storyline. Those emotions, however, are anxiety and LSD-ladened madness. Even though this particular scene may lean toward the clichés people think of when they hear the term psychedelic rather than the actual experience, that’s not necessarily bad. It basically works here as a climax to the opening act, although it remains to be seen if it’s enough to really sell the comic as a series.
The other well-placed story element is the inclusion of music. Using hits from the period as a soundtrack of sorts assist in establishing the setting. Where the hippie dialogue and the trippy art styling might at times seem unoriginal, you can’t deny the authenticity of rock and roll. Everything from the eight track cassette, to the cars, to the clothing all felt pretty dialed, though it’s not enough to help Mayday standout on the new release rack. A snapshot of the time is one thing, and it definitely makes it better that there’s a story playing out beyond historical documentation, but those two elements fight for purpose, which potentially leaves the reader unfulfilled.
Whether or not the series is ultimately successful, you can bet it’ll have some interesting moments. The hook may be the more abstract parts of the story – like the drugged-up sex scene – and you almost have to wonder how those parts could be topped next time around. Nevertheless, a series without characters worth following might not be a series worth following. Here’s hoping there’s some backstory provided in issue #2 that gives us more reason to invest beyond good artwork.
You may want to check out Mayday #1 for a change of pace, although, with a slew of first issues coming out every week, there’s plenty of variety. That variety equals stiff competition for this new book, noble effort or not.