Reviewed by Chris Troy
“Nurse, this baby was born mean!”
Comics Alliance contributor/upcoming X-men ’92 writer Chris Sims first brought Kyle Starks‘ brilliant SEXCASTLE to my attention via a an article/Kickstartr plug on CA. The panel that sold me on the book is below, edited because language, but the important thing about this page remains unaltered:
The last panel is arguably the best line of comics dialogue in 2015/the last 10 years/since Ben Grimm declared it was “Clobberin’ Time” for the first time.
Once SEXCASTLE was fully funded, Image Comics, who has also given us comics with sex in the title such as SEX and SEX CRIMINALS, picked up the publishing rights, and unleashed Kyle Starks insanely rad comic on the masses last week. It’s a tribute/parody of classic ’80s/90s action films, which is nothing new to comics, but so over the top it feels fresh. Sexcastle definitely pays homage to the works that inspired it, but it also laughs at them, and encourages others to do so as well.
SEXCASTLE is the tale of Shane Sexcastle, once the world’s greatest assassin, now an ex-con who ready to start life over in a small town. Of course that sort of plot doesn’t make for the most action packed action comic, so Shane’s vow to give up violence is short lived, and his legacy of brutality* catches up to him once he messes up some locale. This ends in hella punching several characters that bear resemblance to a lot of action film icons, and all of them dying terrible and hilarious deaths. Oh and an actual bear. Sexcastle isn’t exactly the most serious of comics folks.
What Sexcastle is however, is arguably the most quotable comic in some time. The dialogue is a blend of action movies and Chris Onstad‘s Achewood, meaning a lot of dumb things are said in clever and hilarious ways. There’s jokes everywhere in this book, and all of them stick their landing mostly because they’re played straight, and rarely acknowledged. I’m honestly surprised the book isn’t labeled as an action-comedy, but then again I suppose there’s nothing funny about violence. No, that’s a lie, comics violence can be hilarious, especially when GUNCHUCKS are involved.
Starks’ artwork is simplistic, and honestly that’s for the best. Like I just said, there’s a ton of graphic violence in this book, and this book would probably turn me off to it a bit if it looked too realistic. The cartoony style works in the comic’s favor, as does having the book being printed in black and white with some gray-scaling. Even the hand penned lettering is often hilarious, featuring sound sound effects like ONG-BAK’D, PANTIED, and a bunch of others words I can’t post here.
SEXCASTLE, while chock full of good morals, is definitely not for the children. BUT it’s arguably the best comic release of the year. Yeah, I know, Scott McCloud released something not too long along, and technically this was first released in 2014, BUT MCCLOUD’S FOR NERDS** AND SEXCASTLE DOESN’T ACKNOWLEDGE SUCH LAME CONCEPTS AS TIME! To paraphrase The Simpsons, BUY SEXCASTLE OR GO TO HELL!
*Shout of to the Misfits!
** Not personal Scott McCloud, but this book owns harder than both The Raids and Dredd combined.