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[Comic Book Review] IDW Publishing’s PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1

by Adrian Care
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PopCultHQ received an advance review copy of PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1 from IDW Publishing. Available February 27th, 2019, the creative team for this issue features writing from David Barnett, art from Martin Simmonds, color flats by Dee Cunniffe, and lettering from Aditya Bidikar.

Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 - Cover A
Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 - Cover A
Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 - Cover B
Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 - Cover B

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1

Writer: David Barnett
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Color Flats: Dee Cunniffe
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Cover Artists:
Cover A: Martin Simmonds
Cover B: Rafael Albuquerque

FC • 32 pages • $3.99

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.

How does any of this connect to a visually searing three-chord apocalypse? Never mind the bollocks—another season of the critical darling PUNKS NOT DEAD is here with endless pints of anarchy and social distortion!

PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING is a five-issue miniseries written by David Barnett (Calling Major Tom) and illustrated by Martin Simmonds (Friendo, Marvel: Jessica Jones, and Quicksilver covers). Featuring a variant cover by fan-favorite Rafael Albuquerque (Batgirl, A Study in Emerald).


PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1

In his own words, Feargal Ferguson has “got the police after me, some old mod woman, and those creepy magpie creatures.” No worries, mate. He’s also got the ghost of ex-punk rocker Sid watching his back. Game on for the new volume of Punks Not Dead.

Writing: 

Hitch your wagon to David Barnett’s star. Jump on now while this relatively new comic book writer has only the first volume of Punks Not Dead and two other Black Crown projects to his name. An accomplished author of books and journalist beforehand, this is exactly the kind of writer and work Shelley Bond masterfully cultivated during her time at Vertigo. This is what Vertigo has missed ever since it went through its multiple wardrobe changes to end up with the finite output it currently enjoys. But enough of the Vertigo speak.

Black Crown has definitely forged its own identity and it’s through voices like Barnett’s that this has happened. His characters bend your ear as if you were standing by them on the street. His play on tropes and cliché exchanges breathes fresh air into the tried and true. His split narrative style and ability to juggle the A, B, and C plots belie his limited contribution to comics so far. His ideas are impactful and the way they are realized by the art in this book speaks to a great synergy between the entire creative team.

Art/ Colors:

Martin Simmonds covers were, hands down, the best thing about Marvel’s recent Quicksilver: No Surrender limited series. Ditto for the distinctive feel he brought to the covers on the recent Jessica Jones series. In Punks Not Dead he improves dramatically on the solid work carried out in the first volume, as well as his eye-popping work in Death Sentence. Aided by Dee Cunniffe, Simmonds work is imbued with the same artistic spirit of Frazer Irving. His storytelling and artistic character choices are exquisite. Visually, the art maintains a definitively punk feel without veering into retro territory. It’s spliced with pop art and neon nightmares to come across as something completely of its own. It’s not simply comic art. It transcends mediums and becomes something broader. It’s art itself.

Letters: 

Aditya Bidikar is a letterer who clearly gets it. You want something to embellish the Kafka-esque weirdness of Black Crown’s lead-off title Kid Lobotomy. Bidikar nails it. A style to accentuate in letterform Grant Morrison’s tale of the Mahabharata in 18 Days. Bidikar has it covered.

In Punks Not Dead, Bidikar throws in the iconoclastic energy of the punk movement as a pseudo-pop, hallucinogenic effect that really aids the artistic style of the book. Sound effects are carnage to the eyes in lieu of being able to hear a window smash. Even the subtler things like a phone ringing quietly are done with an attractive flair. It’s a unique thing to be hard-pressed to decide whether the lettering aids the writer’s words or the artist’s images more, so the safe bet is just to say Bidikar excels at both.

PopCultHQ’s overall assessment

You don’t need to read volume one to follow on with this issue. But I implore you to all the same. It was an excellent series and this volume takes that many steps further.

The balance between familiar and fresh is very appealing. The ideas and directions this comic take you are a buffet of creativity. Drink in the energy contained in these pages. Revel in every detail. Read it over and over again while you clamor for issue two to come out.

Punk, though. Did anything ever fail so spectacularly to live up to its promise?” That statement may be true, but it doesn’t go double for Punks Not Dead, which continues to deliver in spades. God save the queen.

PopCultHQ’s Rating:

4.5 out of 5 Stars

PopCultHQ Rating - 4.5 Stars

PopCultHQ Rating – 4.5 Stars

PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1 can be purchased on ComiXology and
available 
at your local comic shop and online retailers on Wednesday, February 27th!

Comixology button

Buy Direct from IDW Publishing!


Follow the creators online!

Writer – David Barnett

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Artist – Martin Simmonds

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Colorist – Dee Cunniffe

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Letterer – Aditya Bidikar

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Publisher – IDW Publishing

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[Preview] IDW Publishing’s 2/27 Release: PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1 – PopCultHQ February 26, 2019 - 5:26 AM

[…] RELATED: PopCultHQ’s Review of PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #1 […]

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