The four single issues of The Kill Screen from writer Mike Garley, artist Josh Sherwell & letterer Mike Stock quickly became one of my favourite Indie releases in recent years (maybe ever) and it was a matter of time before I revisited it in the collected edition……plus……it’s a hardback!!!
The core collection of four issues is a sci-fi/horror/thriller mix of ideas following a growing team of survivors in the aftermath of The Kill Screen event that pretty much messed up the world as we know it. This left the population splintered into a Blue & Red Team with a group of digital cultist thrown in to add another challenge for our group to tackle. The quest for survival could have easily slipped into a bleak trudge from attack to attack but the inclusion of pop culture nods and a sly sense of humour keeps a balance that few titles can boast.
That humour is dotted throughout an impressive number of set pieces and with edge of your seat moments building tension it’s hard to pinpoint one single thing that makes this such an engaging read as it’s all playing a part. Mike’s plot and script is key to the hook the story has from the beginning and the sinister villain & hopeful survivors make up an impressive roster for him to keep control over which he manages with ease.
The visuals from Josh step the title up a notch with an instant familiarity to it that helps the jarring surprises become all the more powerful. Blending the real world and the digital world may not be something new but the way they are pieced together is so subtle & well controlled that you could work through the main story without reading a word and you’d still be able to take in some of the mood being built across the quest for survival.
The key difference with this collected edition is the sheer amount of extras that are included with 7 short stories, sketches, a cover gallery, some stunning pinups, ads and some of the scripts all tied into this hardcover collection making it the indie that keeps on giving. Those extra short stories in particular, help add material before, during & after the original story which results in a richer, deeper world that emphasizes the scope it already has and the potential for more.
A perfect title in my eyes has somehow been embellished & broadened with this collected edition and the world of The Kill Screen seems to be bursting with possibilities. That potential should be enough to hopefully ensure that we’ll see more but in the meantime this hardback release can’t improve on what had been shown in those single issues but it does help solidify this in my mind as a title I can return to again quite easily. One to love, one to remember & one to recommend.