It’s hard to believe that four decades have passed since the rock supergroup KISS made kisstory by appearing in the first of two Marvel Super Special one-shot comics, with the added publicity stunt of each band member adding a small amount of their own blood into the ink, while news cameras caught the whole event and a smiling Stan Lee oversaw the proceedings.
Comics have come a long way since then, titles have come and gone. Music, similarly has come a long way – but KISS (always in capitals as any member of the KISS Army will tell you) still prevail and continue to Rock and Roll Every Day and Party Every Night.
So, forty years later, the band appear in a fresh new title from Dynamite Comics that expands upon the storyline of their Music from the Elder album of 1981. Written by Amy Chu with artwork by Kewber Baal, this edition collects the first five issues in an ongoing story.
Taking its cue by quoting lyrics from their A World Without Heroes in the first panel, we are introduced to the underground city of Blackwell, established after an apocalyptic war between the years 2041 and 2068 destroyed the surface of the planet, rendering it uninhabitable.
468 years later, over two and a quarter million people live in Blackwell. None of them have ever seen the sun. Though seemingly contented, the population is rigidly controlled by the Council of Elders, with the law being enforced by the Protectors – large robot versions of the band.
Four inquisitive teenagers discover an old map of Blackwell, which shows a system of tunnels that might lead them to the surface. On their quest they discover that not all they have been told is what it seems to be, as the authorities send flying Sentinel type KISSbots to stop them before they manage to reboot the ancient computer named Morpheus.
That’s all the plot we’re willing to give away, as the story is ongoing with a pretty amazing plot twist that nobody could have really seen coming. Among the familiar Demon, Starchild, Spaceman and Catman characters (all drawn from the original line-up that included Ace Frehley and Peter Criss) there is also a fan-satisfying nod to the late Eric Carr’s Fox persona.
There are few of the easter egg riddled visuals that will not mean anything to those not versed in the history of KISS. However, for fans - especially us long-time fans, there’s a richly detailed treasure trove of references, costumes, album covers and lyrics in the background to pore over, savour and enjoy.
The beginnings of an epic tale for an epic band!
KISS: THE ELDER VOL 1 – A WORLD WITHOUT SUN / WRITER: AMY SHU / ARTISTS: KEWBER BAAL / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: 25TH APRIL