By Brandy Dykhuizen. Mayday is a deliciously aware Cold War comic book, opening with a libidinous scene of mild sexual harassment in the workplace and moving quickly to a Soviet turncoat surveying the poolside scene of a Palm Springs Eichler Home. The Cold War’s bumbling bravado has only just started to heat up; both the CIA and FBI are just dying to dig their claws into any of Krushchev’s conspirators. But, this being California in the early 70s, those impressionable young informers might just take a drug-fueled leap into the government’s lap on their own.
“In Russian, there is no word for ‘defector.’” Both my Russian husband and a handy bilingual dictionary disagree (it’s perebezhchik), but Alex de Campi’s narration does well to set the tone. The scenes in Mayday are gorgeous, nuanced and boldly out there, from the Pollack painting contrasting a safehouse’s careful symmetry to the mind-bending desert orgy found in a bottle laced with LSD. (Poor little Felix probably wasn’t expecting that out of his trusted vodka.)
de Campi gives us a sensory overload in Mayday, in which her words become secondary to Parker and Blond’s art and the suggested soundtrack woven throughout the story. Even the lettering is at times purposefully squiggled and unclear, Latin or Cyrillic type melting off the page to encourage your focus to shift elsewhere. There is plenty to admire here, from streetlights playing against hedgerows and starry skies to the talking ants Felix perceives crawling across his skin.
The Cold War is often depicted as a stuffy, repressed conflict between a handful of supercharged egos with fingers on the trigger. First-hand accounts have shown that the murkiness didn’t stop at the top, and much of the struggle relied those smaller stories, in which the best-laid plans turn sideways and unsuspecting bystanders get caught in the fray. As a walk through an alternative history curated with fantastic earworms, Mayday brings a welcomed new perspective to Cold War drama.
Written by Alex de Campi.
Art by Tony Parker and Blond.
Edited by Brendan Wright and Bekah Caden.
7.5 out of 10