Review: Raygun Roads – side A and side B – this time it’s the whole package…
Right then, we’ve already looked at Raygun Roads Side A back in August, just half the story. Yet just that was enough to very nearly put it onto my best of the month list with its tale of psychedelic madness pop star unemployment line adventuring chaos. Or something like that. Anyway, here’s the B side, here’s the whole thing, strap yourselves in….
This is the complete package, the story of Raygun Roads, start to finish. Or possible start to middle, to start to middle, to start to middle, repeat until fade. It’s that sort of comic. You read Side A first, get to the centre page spread then flip it over and start with purple covered side B, reading right into the middle again. This is a comic on endless repeat.
Or to use the modern parlance; Read, Flip, Read, Repeat.
This is hit hard and hit fast comics, not concerned necessarily with that whole narrative thing, more to do with the mood, the idea, the vibe, it’s all pop star sensibilities, live fast, die young, good looking corpse sort of thing. Psychedelic madness in the art and script, loads of energy, loads of noise, just like this…
You just met the band.
Like I said of Side A back when I reviewed it….
Raygun Roads is a weird psychedelic thing, foot to the floor storytelling and some bloody great artwork delivering something that impresses but is all over all too soon. It’s really a superspeed trip into weirdness, Johnson and artist Indio really pushing it all up to 11, doing very little here apart from establishing the cast, the theme, and the mood… but dammit, it’s bloody fun stuff. It’s a perfect little modern pop thing, bursting quick and bright on the consciousness.
That pretty much covers the whole thing really, not just side A. In fact, with side B it just gets more weird.
Raygun Roads has come back to dull, mundane reality, just to rescue young no-hoper Vince Paradise from the deathly boring process of signing on, and possibly the small matter of being murdered by the spiritual assassins D-Void. Side A ends with the band crashing through the job centre walls to rescue Vince from his terminally drab little life, the band an acid trip with a soundtrack, making epic noise in a world where they weren’t meant to exist, all topped off with a good bit of Springsteen….
‘The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.’
‘Take the A6, Bruv’
Love it. Fast, furiously psychedelic, art and music turned to 11, and a gag or two as well.
That’s the very end of Side A, time to flip and head into new territory and dive into the unknown, where Vince is finding it all a bit much, a change of scene, a change of pace, a change of look…
The band play on, careering through to the Heartbreak Hotel and Ulysses Pomp, ‘The Shaman of Shame, Da Skool Masta of Dizasta’, a vile, corpulent bloated puss-sac of a man, overseeing a grey dull prison regime, the end point to all those social engineering regimes so beloved by our masters right now. How are Raygun and Vince tied into all this, how will they defeat Pomp and stop the Infinity Loop Death-Trap, a mechanism with the power to destroy all teenagers? Well, sit back relax, buy the damn comic and read it to find out.
There’s a telling moment early in Side B where Vince just grabs Motormind, Raygun’s bass playing green-skinned zomboid thing and shouts “No! Stop talking in song lyrics! Someone explain to me where we’re going!”.
Thing is, by halfway through Side B I sort of know where he’s coming from, the chemical insanity and continual heavy cutting from idea to idea, dialogue scattershot and superspeed fast, it’s all just that little too much and there’s a fracturing of what we saw in Side A, we lose some of the social commentary and launch headlong into the metaphysical nonsense poetry.
Thankfully that troublesome middle bit of Side two doesn’t last too long and thank god Johnson pulls it all back in just that little bit towards the climax, a cracking circular thing, all epic battles over tunes, so fast, so fast, all colours and lines coming together in that Springsteen-esque last chance power drive.
Suddenly it’s clear that the quirky flipside comic format is no mere format quirk, it’s integral to the story. You get to the end of Raygun Roads, right in the middle of the book, and realise it’s time to flip the track once more and head back to Side A. Read, flip, read, repeat.
I said with the review of Side A that Raygun Roads is “bright, it’s brash, it’s ridiculous, but it’s also rather important, rather fun, and all good“. I was worried part of the way through that it had lost it’s way, ventured too far over into chaos and dischord, but that small fault aside, Johnson and Indio pull it off, creating a comic of near pure dance crazy energy, a breathless read and a load of fun.