Kid Lobotomy: Issue 1 (Black Crown / IDW)
Words: Peter Milligan Pictures: Tess Fowler Colours: Lee Loughride Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Content Warning: this issue contains horror, supernatural and sexual content and is only recommended for mature readers
Kid Lobotomy is your normal burnout trust fund man child.
Heir to a sprawling hotel empire.
Failed and faded Rock Star wannabe.
Manager and concierge of the Suites; a haunted hotel populated by ghostly children and staffed by shape shifting spirits.
Obsessed with William S Boroughs and Kafka.
Self educated brain care specialist with a penchant for trepanning.
You know, all those things the cool kids these days LOVE!
Kid Lobotomy is the debut offering from Shelley Bond’s boutique IDW imprint but it equally feels like something VERTIGO would have released at the height of its powers 15 or 20 years ago.
This is of course no surprise when you consider that Bond and Kid Lobotomy writer Peter Milligan were collaborators at VERTIGO for nearly 20 years.
Even if you don’t know Peter Milligan (and if you’re reading this I think it’s fair to suspect that you probably do) it’s almost certain that you’ve read his work before. Milligan has been a near constant on the American and British Comic scene for 30 years. He’s written almost every major character for the Big 2 included seminal works such as Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City and the classic X Force / X Statix for Marvel with Michael Allred.
Although he never seemed to achieve the widespread acclaim of his VERTIGO peers like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis or Brain K Vaughan you can not deny Milligan’s contributions to VERTIGO’s efforts to redefine mainstream comics.
He is perhaps best known for his character defining 70 issue run on Shade the Changing Man and a nearly decade long run on Hellblazer at the tail end of Constantine’s time in the shadowy realms of VERTIGO. He’s also no stranger to controversy with more experimental works like Enigma and the Extremist.
So all things considered he is the perfect writer to usher in the Black Crown era with its commitment to making comics which are “an art and design joyride”.
Milligan partners with Rat Queens artist Tess Fowler in this strange and psychedelic of the mindscape of the titular Kid Lobotomy (Yes that is his real name as explained the backmatter at the end of the issue).
The supporting cast includes his equally bizarre family and the Suites Hotel (situated as it is just behind the Black Crown Pub). Lee Loughride’s subtle, washed out colours perfectly reinforce the unreal nature of Fowler’s images.
The mystery of this first issue involves a hotel guest who finds himself inexplicably obsessed with the lyrics to a song which Kid wrote in a past life as the guitarist for Stage of Fools.
This book throws you in at the deep end leaving you to desperately scramble for air, light and normality. Milligan and Fowler create a world which is simultaneously grounded in the mundane bricks and mortar of the hotel while at the same time feeling hallucinatory and dreamy.
There is logic, rules and convention somewhere which I am sure will be revealed to us in time but in the meantime the curve balls and big questions keep coming like something from a David Lynch, Terry Gilliam or Wes Anderson film.
The pace is unrelenting as the roller coaster ride propels you through the story to a great last page reveal. This strong debut from Black Crown is backed up with preview for Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez’s Assassinistas and the upcoming Black Crown Quarterly Anthology.
Kid Lobotomy is a powerful and intoxicating brew which fans of Milligan’s work which greedily devour and then immediately demand another fix. Even if you’re not a devotee of Milligan’s extensive body of work you will find a lot to love here if you are a fan of Matt Fraction’s Casanova, the films of David Lynch of even the most recent Dirk Gently series from Netflix.