Review: ‘Alpha King’ #1

Writers: Nick Floyd & Brian Azzarello
Artists: Simon Bisley & Ryan Brown

This book is what happens when beer and comics conceive on a barstool. I’m a proud poppa.Brian Azarello, discussing Alpha King #1

ALPHAKING01_cvrThe bad news is that Alpha King absolutely reads like it was conceived on a barstool. The good news is, Azarello and Simon Bisley are clearly having fun with this project and not taking comics so seriously. The plot involves Brewer (a beer craftsman, natch) and his girlfriend CiCi. They are working on perfecting Brewer’s latest batch of pale ale when they are attacked by a gang of Revenuers working for the King. Not the Alpha King, mind you – without giving away spoilers, this series is about the rise of said Alpha King.

It took a couple passes and re-reading of some captions to figure that much out. Plot and story development aren’t so important here. This book is unmitigated mayhem with patches of development to establish who’s involved and what’s going on – albeit barely. We know who Brewer and CiCi are, but not so much about their attackers, the King, or the brigand of “living and undead” he commands. The story is clear as mud, but the action is what’s on display here. Azzarello knows the purpose behind this title and sets up the bare minimum of plot (with assist from 3 Floyds Brewery founder Nick Floyd) before stepping aside and letting Bisley and Ryan Brown go to work.

Bisley and Brown have as much of a field day with the violence and mayhem as Azarello and Floyd do with the swears. It’s been awhile since Bisley has been on interiors of any series, much less able to just go bonkers. In fact, one would probably have to go back to Heavy Metal magazine circa 2003 to Bisley’s work with Kevin Eastman on the Fistful of Blood story (recently reprinted by IDW) to see when he got to produce this kind of violence and bedlam. Incidentally, Alpha King was apparently supposed to be under the Heavy Metal banner before landing at Image. That may put a lot into focus when looking to understand how ape nuts Bisley goes here.

If Alpha King #1 is any indication, the series as a whole should be like a drug trip – nonsensical but a hell of a lot of fun. Azarello and Bisley deliver 2.5 out of 5 Tolkien Metaphors worth of comics chaos. If you’re expecting 100 Bullets or Wonder Woman-level storytelling, then buy this book. Then by all means, keep looking elsewhere.

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Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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