Review - Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 (@blackcrownhq)

"Wherever Fergie is, he knows what he's doing."

Punk rock (like every music era) lives on forever in some individuals and mindsets. In Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 from Black Crown Comics, that mentality lives on in a ghost. The issue is written by David Barnett, illustrated by Martin Simmonds (flats by Dee Cunniffe) and lettered by Aditya Bidkar.

Teenage geek Fergie Ferguson and his BF Sid, the ghost of a punk rocker who only Fergie can see or hear, are on the lam for a murder they didn't exactly commit. They've made it to London but on their tail are the police, the quirky paranormal investigation agency the Department of Extra-Usual Affairs, and some really freaky magpie monsters, so there's not (much) time for sightseeing. While Fergie tracks down his long-absent father to get answers about his powerful new "abilities" (Sid calls them "psychic grenades"), DfEUA's old-school mod super spy Dorothy Culpepper and her sensible young partner Asif Baig uncover evidence that links Fergie to the underworld. Fergie's mum Julie and his not-a-girlfriend Natalie also join forces to save Fergie from life in prison...but with a psychopathic serial killer showing an interest, everybody might soon be running out of time.

Barnett is juggling quite a bit in the first issue and does an excellent job of walking the tightrope between the sub-plots. The bulk of the issue is from Fergie's point of view as he searches for his dad with Barnett working in the other characters in terms of how they relate to him and his "condition." Sid is probably the most outspoken character throughout the issue and with good reason--he's the ghost of a punk rocker--and his dated perspective feels somewhat refreshing throughout the issue. The dialogue shared by the characters is pretty rapid-fire with Barnett's pacing fairly breakneck. There's still a lot of unanswered questions in regards to how the supernatural manifests itself so readily in the real world, but Barnett's got some time to delve into that for those unfamiliar with the premise.

Simmonds artwork is a great homage to the punk era that one of its main characters is evoking. The linework is very refined in a way as Simmonds uses a style that's reminiscent of markers traced over pencil sketches and it works exceptionally well for the tone of the story. The white bordered panels and empty gutters are also a bold choice as well, primarily because they allow the action to be very focused and provide an ethereal sense to the overall tone. Simmonds also does interesting things with perspective, rendering many of the panels from a top-down or bottom-down perspective that provides a new look at things. The colors are the right amount of chaos with Cunniffe handling the flats to further the punk rock ethos.

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is a very brash and emphatic ghost story of sorts. Fergie is seeking answers about his past and present, relying on Sid as something of a guide to finding answers (even if Sid's moral compass doesn't necessarily default to north). Barnett's script is pretty raucous and enjoyable, crashing from one sequence to the next. Simmonds' artwork is disjointed in its own right and fits with the overall punk rock aesthetic of the title. Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is a pretty fun read.

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is available now.