Book Review: Killer Queens by David M. Booher, Claudia Balboni & Harry Saxon ★★★

Inter-gay-lactic assassins turned goodies-for-hire, Alex and Max are sent on their first non-murdery job, to rescue some kids from political prison. To pull off their mission they’ll need to dodge their ex-lovers, a very angry (and fluffy) monkey, Captain Bieti (whose ship they stole), and try not to start a war when they get there. Strap yourselves in, the first collected volume of Killer Queens is ready for your reading pleasure.

Created and written by David M. Booher, with art by Claudia Balboni and Harry Saxon, this is 50s pulp sci-fi with a side-serving of queerness pulled straight from Queen’s ‘Killer Queen’ lyrics.

“She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Killer Queens. Dark Horse Comics.

Alex and Max are an odd couple. Alex is a goal-oriented lesbian who prefers to be in charge of every situation and has a weakness for stubborn and obnoxious women (of any species). Max is a charming, light-hearted, gay horn-bag chasing money and men; not always in that order. As they head off on their mission things invariably goes south, and it’s hard to imagine these two as cold-blooded killers; they’re more like gay, space versions of Monica and Joey from Friends

But this book isn’t really about grand space opera plots, it’s about the fun characters and their zany adventures. It’s a Saturday morning cartoon with lashings of queer sex. After enough innuendo, fight scenes and comedy the whole episode is tied up neatly with a bow leaving our duo ready for their next outing.

Killer Queens. Dark Horse Comics.

Booher’s writing has some sizzling lines that made me laugh out loud. Baldoni’s line work is lithe and expressive, she gives the characters crystal-clear facial expressions that play up the comedy and, when it hits, the pathos, reminding me of Alan Davis’ work on the early issues of Marvel’s Excalibur. The retro-sci-fi aesthetic is rendered cleanly with bold colours by Saxon; this whole book pops! 

What’s lacking so far is a contemporary point-of-view on these fairly familiar character tropes. At the moment (and we’re only four issues into the series so it’s early days yet), everything is a bit first-base. Max is a slutty gay guy, Alex is an Alpha lesbian – got it.  Hopefully future stories will see some fresh layers added to the world beyond ‘funny-gay-pulp-sci-fi’.

To survive as a fully-fledged series, Killer Queens will have to move beyond the parody and develop more character and story, but this volume is a fun package that sets the it up for success.

By Chad Armstrong

Killer Queens is released as a trade paperback on March 30th 2022.

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