If somebody had shown me Cross Cult’s Gung Ho ten years ago, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to fall in love with comics. The art in this over-sized hardcover is abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous. Beautiful little paintings that play both to my aesthetic taste and my love of the post-apocalyptic. They would have been lost in a smaller format, enormous as the size makes the price (22 euro).
Gung Ho Volume One: Schwarze Schafe (Black Sheep) has a lot of potential—characters, conflicts, dilemmas, sexual tension, political intrigue, addiction, and crazed man-eating monkeys that threaten the out-of-the way settlement in the European danger zone where the story takes place. We don’t get to see much of this ruined world. If the Goodreads summary hadn’t mentioned something called the “white plague” that has destroyed most of humanity, I couldn’t have been sure that Gung Ho was post-apocalyptic at all. Here’s hoping the story takes a hard right turn into ruins-and-destruction territory next issue. Because from the looks of this volume, it would be gorgeous.
But the scenarios laid out in Gung Ho‘s 84 color pages offer plenty of potentially interesting non-apocalyptic threads as well. We just barely get a chance to meet the main characters and get a feel for this world by the end of Schwarze Schafe, and the authors have very successfully managed to set up a couple of volatile heaps of powder likely to go off spectacularly in the following volumes. I hope. They have also managed to create a few characters who I already hate with the passion of a thousand burning books, but hey, maybe I’ll get lucky, and they’ll get eaten by the zombie monkeys next round.
The only thing I fucking hated—in this comic and a majority others—is the decision to draw all the young ladies as Playboy-styled hotties. I expect post-apocalyptic survivors to be skinny and scrawny, and all the men are in varying states of such. But the ladies? Among the older women is a teacher who leans towards Rubineqsue (but who remains in the background), while two others are skinny, svelte, and subtly curvy. The young ladies are all skinny waifs with breasts you could shelf your comic collection on. Just come fucking on and vary the female bodies you put on the young-and-sympathetic side of the story alright? And let them wear some fucking clothes. Do you know how scarce sun screen is going to be during the apocalypse? (Something CB Harvey’s Dead Kelly recently drew to my attention.) So why the fuck is nobody covering up?
In the magazines everybody is airbrushed and anorexic and in the comics everybody is a god damn pin-up nymph. Everywhere I look, I see another impossible physical ideal being waved around, and I am so fucking sick of them coming at me from every side. Gung Ho, like far too many comics before it, styles women (and just one kind of female body) as sexual objects. While the story has a lot of potential, this irritates the shit out of me. Volume 2 (Ohne Rucksicht auf Verluste) has one of ’em right on the cover. Will the story be great enough to carry me along regardless? I sure hope so, but it’s going to have to work for it.
Six out of nine red nails in the status post (context is everything).
Where I got it: Sent to me by the publisher for review
Where you can get it: Wherever German comics are sold