I was very pleasantly surprised by the first issue of Survival Street, a comic that takes readers to a very dark, corporate run future where most people are either out for themselves or to screw others over, or both, and the only people looking to make a difference and do some good are a group of rogue freedom fighters who also happen to be puppets. In this new issue we get to delve a little into their history, as well as getting some huge action scenes.
Issue two begins in medias res, with the Salutation Street gang running for their lives as a huge crowd chases them, shooting at them. The puppets are forced to take shelter inside an old church, believing it will give them sanctuary; unfortunately it’s the Church of Christ the Reloaded, and these people aren’t up for taking prisoners. Two pages in and I was already laughing out loud.
From here we get a series of flashbacks that begin to bring us up to speed on things, learning through some old news reports that the gang are in Hollow Point, a small Texan town run by the WRA, the Weapons Retailers of America, and that the town is every gun-nut’s wet dream. They have open carry, concealed carry, and anything you can carry rules, and duels settle everything from arguments to divorces. As the book says, it’s “basically Westworld without the robots”.
And as Hollow Point looks set to expand their laws for who can carry guns, having previously made it so school kids can carry weapons, they now want to make it legal that toddlers have guns. And this is something that the Survival Street puppets think is pretty bad. Challenging the WRA CEO to a duel, he gets the townspeople to fight in his place, plunging the entire town into a gunfight.
Mixed in with this we also get some flashbacks to the origins of the puppets, learning that they’re not made, that they’re not puppets come to life, but in fact come from a remote island. When humans discover their home they make a deal with the puppets to mine the island’s guano deposits. This ends up forever changing the puppet’s society, and is another example of how rampant capitalism and colonialism destroys entire cultures.
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Whilst the first issue was a great introduction to this world it had its ups and downs; some moments that were a bit slower, and points at which the narrative had room to breathe. This issue doesn’t. It has an almost breakneck pace, where everything happening in Hollow Point is a mad dash to survive as the puppets find themselves having to battle against dozens, perhaps hundreds, of gun wielding maniacs. Things escalate and go in some pretty wild directions, but all of it is honestly brilliant. The book knows it’s ridiculous and absolutely leans into it. There are explosions, people diving through the air whilst shooting, car crashes, and even a Charlton Heston robot.
Some of the ridiculousness is tempered by the flashbacks to the origins of the puppets, which are actually kind of sad as you get to see this wonderfully innocent group of people being exploited and changed, their way of life being ruined, all because the humans want more money, more resources. It gives reasons for why this group of kids’ TV personalities have become vigilantes; because they’ve seen their own world ruined by capitalist pigs, and don’t want it to happen again.
The artwork on this issue is provided by Abylay Kussainov and Ellie Wright, and looks great. The action scenes are all bombastic and full of energy, but the best part is how much personality they put into the characters. They make the puppets more expressive and emotive than a lot of comics are able to make their human characters look, and it’s surprising how much humanity these weird, fuzzy people have in their faces.
Survival Street is one of the best series that Dark Horse is producing right now, and James Asmus and Jim Festante are producing a story so weird, wacky, and wonderful that it feels like it can go in any direction and do pretty much anything it wants; and that level of fun and creativity is wonderful to see. I have no idea where this book is going next, but I am so excited to see it.
Survival Street #2 is out now from Dark Horse.