Terminal PunksWriter: Matthew Erman

Artist: Shelby Criswell

Letterer: Micah Myers

Publisher: Mad Cave Studios 

In Terminal Punks #1 by Matthew Erman, Shelby Criswell, and Micah Myers, four teenagers are trapped in John F. Kennedy Airport with the malicious genetic experiments of the malignant {Enoch}!

Trouble Brewing

The first issue of Terminal Punks wastes no time laying out the impending disaster. Even before we meet our heroes, the members of a titular (but currently unnamed) 4-piece band, we’ve seen the Kentucky mansion which Hart Kelsey, the comic’s presumed Big Bad, uses as his base of operations/super villain lair.

Kelsey is a villain for our times, because he’s a villain who can’t admit that he’s an archaic appendage. As one of the “cogs” working much lower on the food chain in the {Enoch} company observes, “none of the procedures are being followed and it’s just because he doesn’t want to do them.” Yay, capitalism!

Terminal Punks
“Yay,” capitalism!

Meanwhile, when we’re introduced to the four band members through drummer Kee Avery’s internal dialogue, we get a quick rundown of the personalities and internal dynamics of the group. In addition to Kee, there’s Sway (he’s Kee’s longtime friend), Burton B. Burton (they’re a talented musician who is the group’s backbone), and D’Arby Wilde (a jerk, but her dad is a link to the music establishment).

With so much being set up in the first issue, the reader only gets what amounts to a vague sense of the characters, but the mix of musical archetypes and sartorial clues give a tantalizing glimpse of the potential in the teens. Plus, the fact that you don’t quite get to know the characters isn’t a problem – rather, it’s an effective hook that will leave the reader looking forward to the next issue.

Push & Pull

One especially engaging aspect of Terminal Punks #1 is the way the art and story push against again one another in interesting ways.

While stories about monstrous genetic experiments running wild and sowing mayhem at an airport may conjure up visions of “realistic” comic art, Terminal Punks goes in the opposite direction, adopting a more cartoon-y aesthetic. While corpses have animation-style X’d-over eyes to show they’ve been shuffled off this mortal coil, the bodies also spew blood, gore, and bone as they are torn to pieces by the various mutated animals.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the reality spectrum, setting the events at a real-world (and frequently recognizable) location provides a grounding counter-point. While the characters may be rendered in a cartoon-y style, they’re also running around an airport that will be familiar to some readers from personal experience.

This just adds to the uncanny aspect of Terminal Punks #1: the story dances back and forth across the line between “unrealistic” absurdist social commentary and “fairly feasible” waking capitalist nightmare.

Second Verse: Same as the First? 

The title of the first chapter of Terminal Punks is strange, and raises an implicit question – just what is “Lady Marmalade” referring to in the context of the comic? At the conclusion of Terminal Punks #1, you get an answer, and while I won’t spoil it here, suffice to say it delivers on the promise of the seemingly bizarre title.

Plus, a final page gives a further idea of Kee’s backstory, along with an 11-track playlist (“Kee’s Freakin out n’ anxious” playlist, which is fitting for the cliffhanger this issue ends on).

Terminal Punks #1 is a fun, fresh comic that seems to be on its way to some interesting places – get on board now!

Terminal Punks #1 is available today, November 11th, 2020, from your local comic shop, and you can get digital copies through your favorite online comics content provider.