If there was one constant theme in today’s (or at least this quarter’s) comic market, it’s vengeance comics. Works such as Sisters of Sorrow and Made Men have been blazing the comic shelves, each one adding its own twist on the well-worn idea. Oni Press’s newest graphic novel, Kill Them All, though, seems intent to powerhouse all of them into a headlock and take the throne for itself. While, unfortunately, it’s not a rendition of Metallica’s debut album through the illustrated medium (though how badass would that be?), it is a fantastically bloody, quick-witted, and kung-furied piece of art that hearkens back to old 90s action flicks and Old Boy-esque digs. While it doesn’t muse on the art of violence such as Sisters of Sorrow or have cool monsters like Made Men, it does bring back something that revenge titles have long left behind: it’s pretty damn funny.
Kill Them All starts off like any good action comic, with a disgraced cop just looking to drink his sorrows away. Detective Iruka has been kicked off the force after blowing up half a city block and shooting the dick off a pedophile and now spends his days fighting in an underground punch dome; you know, punching people out. When his ex-partner tells him of a way to get his job back, he eagerly jumps at the opportunity, especially when it involves bringing down the biggest crime bosses in town. Little does he know that another person had the very same thought, only she’s in it for revenge. Known only as Tiger’s Daughter, this trained assassin is betrayed by both her boyfriend and her master, and she will not go down easy. When TD and Iruka meet at the steps of the criminals’ high rise building, they fight their way to the top through floors of hitmen, booby traps, drug lords, and accountants, only stopping after they KILL THEM ALL!
Kill Them All is basically every awesome action movie rolled into one. It’s like Kill Bill, Old Boy, Die Hard, and Dredd had a baby with Big Trouble in Little China and Kung Fury. It’s a wonderful homage to all those different classic films that helped define the image of what action movies (and action comedy movies) are. Kill Them All is not going to break any stereotypes, but that wasn’t the intention. It’s a bit like Cabin in the Woods, where it’ll satirize the concept of its origin movies but still respects the genre, while avoiding the Scary Movie 4 territory of just plain dumb. It’s very clever and the jokes work with the plot, allowing them to come naturally out of a situation where the characters very suddenly realize how crazy things have gotten. Iruka’s partner is a perfect straight man and their back-and-forth is absolutely hilarious.
The one-man powerhouse behind the project, Kyle Starks, is no stranger when it comes action homages. His previous work, Sexcastle, garnered him an Eisner nomination and Kill Them All continues to carry on his legacy of making non-stop thrillers. His illustration style is actually kind of cute and delves heavily into animation and small-press styles. The fighting sequences are highly stylized and don’t shy away from changing up angles and fighting styles. His color work also changes, depending on what floor our heroes have arrived on and the color of the particular punch, giving each one its own distinct feel. This is a very well thought out comic.
Kill Them All will be hitting, kicking, and blowing up your local comic book shelves this October!