I had no idea what I was getting myself into with Last Gang In Town- I though the cover looked cool, and with the string of successes that Vertigo has had with new number ones lately, I thought I should just give it a try regardless. The cover makes this book out to be a much more darker and straightforward street-tough story than it actually is; not that it necessarily is a bad thing that the book itself took a different direction than what I was expecting, but more on that later…
This book opens in the past- in rock ‘n roll’s halcyon days in 1977, where we see a bit of the rough side of the rock and punk scene. Things are a bit sketchy in the backstage area- and it looks like Pink UFO (who I assume is some mishmash of Jagger, Bowie and a bunch of other random and more obscure figures of the time) are in for a bit of trouble when spiky haired and leather clad girl named Joey.
Upon first meeting her, there is definitely something about her- more than just her penchant for thievery; which seemingly knows no bounds- from Pink UFO’s guitar to the club jacket of a “Hairy Angels” member (I am assuming this is a Hell’s Angels reference) Joey has got herself some sticky fingers. I really liked how the first scene played out- it felt much like the pre-credit sequence for a movie, which gives this book a much bigger scope than I had initially thought- not to mention the following scene’s flash forward to 2018 giving it further large-scale implications.
The flash forward serves mostly to introduce us to a character back in 1977, who has some serious influence (or possibly some super powers???) and pull in that time, to try and coerce a punker to join up with her shadowy cause and become the titular “Last Gang In Town” which has more sinister implications as the book goes on. We also see Joey being the stereotypical underground punker, eschewing fame and notoriety but would rather “light it up, burn it down, and then pogo on the *expletive* ashes till the sun comes up.” Which is a flowery and poetic way of saying “down with the man”.
I really enjoyed the end of the flashback scenes, seeing 1977 from the view of a rock star on top of the world AND a young upstart who only knows two-and-a-half songs. I thought that the artwork for the book felt a bit more like something out of Mad Magazine (and it probably would fit right in as a serialized strip there) but that it gave a more madcap feel to the crazy stuff these characters were getting up to.
I don’t think this is a book for kids (in fact, I know it isn’t) but I think that people who have a love for comics and music and some very strange, almost occult-y stuff will find things to enjoy about this book. There is humor, there is some intrigue- and even some really beautifully drawn moments that remind me of Kevin O’Neill and his work on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Maybe that is just because both books feel oh-so-very British, but there was a bit of a connection there to me.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I expected, and im betting you will, too!