Review & Spoilers: MAYDAY #4



MAYDAY #4 (of 4)

Created by: Curt Pires & Chris Peterson

Written by: Curt Pires

Art by: Alex Diotto

Breakdowns by: Chris Peterson

Colors by: Dee Cunniffe

Lettered by: Colin Bell

Cover by: Chris Peterson, colours by Marissa Louise

 MAYDAY #4 inside info

Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Cover Price: $3.99

 Black Mask logo

(28 pages) [no ads!]


“Pick up the Stiffs on Route 66” (5 pages) [my title, not the writer’s]

The surreal mixes with metaphysics to produce a mindboggling head trip of the nth degree.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 1Terrance comes to on a wide open road smack dab in the middle of the (in)famous Route 66. A young blond who bears an uncanny resemblance to James Dean gives him a hand. The weighty philosophising begins. Here, there, everywhere, anywhere, somewhere, nowhere are relative terms when Terrance inquires his whereabouts. Extending beyond the notion of ‘home is where the heart is’, the JD lookalike asks Terry if it might relate to a special someone. Terry is convinced that this is THE James Dean and that he’s in the afterlife. James gives a roundabout answer. He confirms that he expired due to a car crash. Terrance is in full-blown denial. He has much to do before he punches the clock for the final time. He refuses to be earthly remains. James wants to know if Terry believes in magic. Terry affirms this. With a snap of the fingers, things are reset.

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“Rewind: Fix Everything” or “I Still Believe in Happy Endings” (10 2/3 pages)

 MAYDAY #4 pg. 6

From the eternal void stars shine, a nebula swirls, Earth begins to form before it is fully materialized. BANG! Terrance is roused by Kleio calling out his name. He grabs a gun and fires seven shots at a moustachioed man in an orange G-suit. The man still breathes. He chastises Terry for ruining things. He was going to create an idyllic existence. Terry explains that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This man regrets giving Terry umpteen chances. He lunges at him and is about to choke the life out of the guy. Kloie jumps in [literally!] She gets in one good punch and a chokehold before the a-hole violently tosses her aside and is ready to beat her. Terrance delivers a right hook causing a nosebleed. The sicko is enjoying the taste of his blood when BAM! His head is vaporized. One bullet! What the heck?!? Terry complains about the spatter hitting his shirt. Kloie finds that irrelevant. Do they get rid of the headless corpse? The LAPD and the cultists are still engaged in combat. The duo run to a getaway car.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 7

They decide on a jeep and hit the highway. Nothing but desert all around. One of the oldest clichés in the book occur: the vehicle runs out of gas and they are stranded with no rescue in sight. Kloie makes goes all META:

MAYDAY #4 pg. 13 panel 1Terry sees no choice but to foot it. The actual author tells the reader to check the editor’s note, then informs us there is no editorial reference. Instead, it’s self-promotion for Curt Pires’ POP piece.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 13 panel 2Terry upchucks. He has been sober for an indeterminate time. Despite experiencing physical discomfort, he has never felt better. He views this experience as a pilgrimage. The sun begins to set until night falls. He pants and wants to throw in the towel. Dehydration leads him to losing consciousness.

“Glitterf*** Empire” (5 1/3 pages)

Hooray for Hollywood!! The Writer stands smoking a cigarette looking out a window. His life is falling apart but he has some optimism. The iconic giant letters are in the background. The typical tropes of sex, drugs, and disco play in three separate panels. The writer is also a filmmaker. He vividly recalls one dream in which he compiled the entire history of mankind on to a massive reel. This is very stream of consciousness since it isn’t supposed to make much sense. Snippets of random scenes are sparsed throughout. This man wants to replay, recut, remake the scenes from his own life but it’s impossible. He tries to convince his lead Anastasia to stay. His name is Justin. She gets real deep and cuts up the illusion of fame and fortune. Justin comes to term with the emptiness of his existence. Sartre, anyone?? Fade to black. Credits indicate “Directed by Terrance Gattica”.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 20 panels 3-5MAYDAY #4 pg. 21

“Strange Love” (4 pages)

 Morning, sunshine J James Dean implores Terrance to snap out of it and march right back up. Kloie says it a little more forcefully. Terry thinks he’s at the end of his rope. Kloie assures him that there is no real finality. He wants to express his regrets in being a total douche when he espies the landmark cultural icon atop Mount Lee!! Terry gives a brief description of the darkness in L.A. but he and his lovebug wouldn’t have it any other way. Credits indicate: “You have been reading STRANGE LOVE the conclusion of the comic book series MAYDAY.”

“You’ve Reached Black Mask Studios” (3 pages) [again, my title, not Mr. Pires’]

Terry, the writer, has just completed typing the last page of his new movie. The paragraph is an exact description of the previous panel on the previous page.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 26 panel 1He makes a beeline for Black Mask Studios to speak with the head honcho. He is so gung-ho that he’s only sporting a blazer, boxer-briefs, and slippers. Kloie also actually exists :0 She is the receptionist for the company. He seeks an urgent audience with Matt Pizzolo. Terry looks at Kloie and thinks he recognizes her. She is coy in her response.

MAYDAY #4 pg. 27 panels 1-2MAYDAY #4 pg. 27 panels 7-9BMS deals with movies in this reality and Mr. Pizzolo is the bigwig. Terry barges in. Matt asks if he is inebriated. Just a tad. He drops the script. It’s called MAYDAY. Done, son!!

MAYDAY #4 pg. 28 panels 5-7

•••Before anything else, did you notice the acknowledgments? Look carefully at whom the creators thank!!•••

MAYDAY #4 acknowledgments

As with all other reviews I have done for this magazine, I have dived in without testing the waters. I am aware of what occurred beforehand without having read the previous three issues. In a way I’m glad this is a mini-series. I will assume that it is as the risk of looking foolish. Aside from that, my curiosity is piqued worse than multiple bee stings!! I have to pick up the rest. I already know that number one went to second printing. Bravo!!

Black Mask Studios logo

I could produce a massive paper on the rationalization and deconstruction of creating fiction and world-building but I will be concise. I will let the scanned panels speak for me. Literally!! I enjoyed the multiple layers of meaning. I compare this to INCEPTION where the more you descend, the harder it is to ascend. One needs a stable tether to what is deemed reality otherwise there are garbled images that lead to inanity (and insanity). The technique of the story-within-a-story-within-a-story is a main fixture in writing. It works really well in this final issue. The point is to interpret the events in your own way – Was it all a dream? Did Terry become too immersed in his imagination? Were we sucked in to a literary labyrinth? The choice is yours!!

Black Mask Studios is relatively a toddler in the comic book publishing pantheon. In their short lifespan of three years, they have met critical and sales success with titles like GODKILLER, WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, SPACE RIDERS, The DISCIPLES, and this very title. I will correct myself. They are also a studio in the truest sense!! There’s a TV adaptation of FIVE GHOSTS in the works as well as an animated trilogy lined up for GODKILLER. The metafiction in this last entry is entirely applicable!! The company is run by a triumvirate: Steve Niles (of 30 DAYS of NIGHT fame), Brett Gurewitz (from the music group Bad Religion), and Matt Pizzolo who has his named dropped, coincidentally! I find fascinating the transition from film to comics. I now refer to Mr. PIzzolo who has dabbled in directing and playwrighting. He now has a hand in producing funny books. This is the second time in two days that cinema carries over to comics! My eyes are agape at Mr. Gurewitz’s new hobby. I learn something new every single day!! Mr. Pizzolo is given props for pushing transmedia. Neato, mosquito!! Now I know and that is half the battle 😉 OOOOHHHH, looking at BMS’ site, I see that they have formed a partnership with Tim Kring, the creator of HEROES, to make MAYDAY a TV series. No bloody way :0 I’m in like sin ;-P
Steve NilesBrett GurewitzMatt Pizzolo

Enough gushing about the frontrunners. Time to praise Curt Pires! A basic internet search leads me to his own site as well as a brief bio on Are you Canadian, Curt?? If so, high five! I also read your latest offering from Dark Horse: The TOMORROWS #1. It was offered for me to do as an advance review but I never got around to it for that. Awkward!! Alrighty. Focus! Mr. Pires has crafted a twirling tale that gave me pause even though I knew the direction (at least I think I did). I see this as a modern spin of S. Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, somewhat mild but just as wild. Terrance Gattica is a schmuck like the rest of us. There are times none of us have redeeming qualities. We may see the flaws within ourselves but don’t always have the strength nor exhibit the choice to correct them. He’s ‘lucky’ enough to get the girl despite his misgivings and shortcomings. His creativity reached the right outlet. Maybe his lack of sobriety is what led him to converse with a deceased beloved Hollywood star. A quick glance at Kloie the receptionist fueled his fantasies and developed into a warm fuzzy love story. The desire to impress the CCO gave him the impetus to write about a cult. The residency within the City of Angels also let loose his metacognition about the vileness seeped into the glitz and glamour. One look at his disheveled appearance and you know I’m on the mark!!

Alex Diotto is practically a babe in the woods. I mean that in the most respectful way. He has exhausted his pencils for Action Lab, Comixtribe, Grayhaven, Outré Press, and Titan. WHOA! His style is similar to David Aja. James Dean resembles a more mature and developed Archie. The many faces of Terrance show his various states of mind and stages in life. Kloie is a big black mama and someone I look up to. The best sequence is the walk towards civilization since it’s a one point perspective.

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Chris Peterson started off with Arcana Studio, Challenger Comics, and monkeybrain Comics. Talk about six degrees of separation!! I’m horrible at reviewing art. I will attempt to acknowledge properly. It’s the little things that make me re-look at all the panels and pages: the tire tracks in the desert. The super-cool magnifying effect of the bench is an ingenious visual aide. I also smile at the basic lines depicting Terrance’s hirsuteness. Given my lack of artistic ability, I would do the exact same thing!

Dee Cunniffe has also worked with Mr. Peterson on HEADSPACE from monkeybrain. No coincidence there!! Terry’s purple shirt is reminiscent of Clint Barton’s simple wardrobe. Kloie’s mid-riff tee also has the same colour scheme but then it shifts to pink. HUH? Am I buzzed?? I equate Terry’s shirt to purple haze given his state of mind. That same tinge is used again for night in the desert. Orange is used subtly but is an obvious indicator of the sun-soaked setting. The cliché of Terry and Kloie sitting as the sun sets is inspiring.

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Colin Bell’s work experience is also diversified. I might as well cover all the bases. He has worked for BOOM!, Comixtribe, Dark Horse, Dogooder Comics, Martian Lit, and Unthank Comics. This man has his A-game on especially with the stylized “Glitter**** Empire” logo. The Courier font from the typewriter is extremely accurate. The Route 66 designation is a no-brainer. The dialogue and narration are more miniscule than usual but still legible.

Marissa Louise needs acknowledgement as well. She has mainly done work for BOOM!, Dark Horse, Image, monkeybrain, and two obscure companies: Frankenstein’s Daughter and Loser City. She provided the palettes for the cover. The suicidal image is appropriately surrounded by flames since Catholicism considers it a sin and a guaranteed entry into Hell.

BMS prides itself for showcasing transgressive art. Since I was in the dark regarding this concept, I had to figure it out. By definition, it is a medium whose intention is to outrage or violate basic mores and sensibilities. In other words, whatever social values you hold most dear are thrown out the window. These creators want to shock you and offend you any which way. Applause all around!!

Black Mask tee-shirtMayday should be renamed Heyday. The manic mayhem of this story was a rip-roaring ride. I will rate this book appropriately: 8.5 out of 10.

8.5 stars

Like many other self-made individuals, this team has websites linked to their accomplishments. Chris Peterson, where are you on the world wide web???