THIS REVIEW OF ‘PUNKS NOT DEAD’ #6 IS SPOILER-FREE.
By Mickey Rivera. One of Black Crown’s darling youngins has come of age. Punks Not Dead has completed its first story arc, with issue #6 ringing out one final defiant power chord before switching tracks. This issue comes with some eye openers as well as a few no-brainers, but it does an excellent job of getting readers ready for the treacherous and unknown road ahead.
The past five issues have taken us to exotic locales across Britain loaded with varying amounts of occult energies: a Prime Minister’s residence, the site of a defunct 1970’s discotheque, an airport bathroom. Strange, musically-geared occurrences have undergone a sharp uptick due to a particularly nasty, sonically-inclined entity which federal spook-hunter Dorothy Culpepper thought she had banished from this side of the graveyard. Our magically-empowered hero, Fergie Ferguson, has become more adept at controlling the psychic explosions that have up to now resulted in some of the most gorgeous splash pages in modern comics. He is, unfortunately, no more keen to why he’s able to psychically explode in the first place, and is hoping a risky internet contact might have some clues for him. And, after five issues of wondering what the hell is going on, this sixth issue opens wide the curtains on a couple of unanswered questions, and in the process sets the stage for bigger things.
These revelations, which must remain nameless to protect against spoilage, come hard and fast and somewhat unexpectedly, with just enough style and finesse to make you excited for what’s ahead. This issue ends the “Teenage Kicks” arc which introduced us to 15 year-old Fergie and his rude and confused ghost companion, as well as Fergie’s family and, of course, Ms. Culpepper. What began as a coming-of-age buddy comedy about a nebbish teenager with family problems has morphed into several interlocking stories that tie together music, the occult, the 60s, the 70s and generational divides, all in a phenomenally illustrated package. The characters have undergone impressive transformation. Ms. Culpepper, arguably the series’ most interesting character, has grown especially deep, with a backstory explored in issue #5 that was quite simply a marvelous piece of writing and visual storytelling.
Punks Not Dead’s approach to punk rock itself has always been indirect, much to it’s benefit. Instead of focusing on a specific genre’s who’s apex came and passed more than 40 years ago, and which has arguably been analyzed and re-imagined to death, creators David Barnett and Martin Simmonds use the spirit and aesthetic of punk to serve as the dynamo that drives the story forward. They nudge the readers to see everything through the lens of irreverence and radical individuality. Through characters that repeatedly and effectively decide not to be fucked with and refuse to appeal to higher authorities, Punks Not Dead drives home the idea that punk rock’s most vital essence, despite having itself been diluted by time and appropriation, is alive and well and in fact likely existed in one form or another long before the Sex Pistols laid a finger on their instruments.
Having set this framework down in the previous issues, Punks Not Dead #6 feels like a true beginning, where the series starts on a path towards exploring the deep occult secrets at the heart of the story. The direction it’s going seems to consist of parts Hellblazer and Love and Rockets, which is a combination I didn’t even know would go well until I saw it staring at me in Simmonds’ blazing colors. Despite being the end of an arc, this issue is the start of something tasty.
Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99
Written by David Barnett.
Art by Martin Simmonds.
Color Flats by Dee Cunniffe.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
8 out of 10