Billy Declan and Elvis Chang are two cybernetically enhanced, bada– space mercenaries who are not afraid to answer the threat of violence with more violence followed by some gratuitous violence followed by just a little more violence to be sure. Things get really out of hand on a job leading them to lose the gear they were supposed to recover and get their a–es kicked by a genetically engineered woman. The two retreat to their adopted daughter, Luisa, for repairs when the entirety of a corrupt police force comes for them.
Declan and Chang has well earned its mature rating. This comic does not step away from violence, swearing, violence, sexual innuendo, and testicle shooting, but it’s all used in such an over-the-top manner that it can’t help but be fun. Creators Matt and John Yuan have stated before that Billy Dee and Elvis were based off of some RPG characters, and the characters’ antics and attitudes reflect that, which is no doubt part of why I find the chaos and immaturity so entertaining.
But, that’s not all Declan and Chang has to offer. The characters of Billy Dee and Elvis are not terribly deep, but what’s there is solid; the fun-loving Billy Dee and the dour and angry Elvis play off of each other perfectly. My favorite character of the issue, though, has to be Luisa. After being caught in a crossfire around an orphanage as a child, the two hardened mercenaries rebuilt her and claimed her as their own. Issue #3 sheds some more light on what it was like for her to grow up with Elvis and Billy Dee, and it’s adorable, heart-warming, and full of violence and humor as you might imagine. Luisa’s arc in this issue hits the more serious notes Declan and Chang needed to make the more silly parts of the story shine. The interactions Luisa has with each of her “fathers” helps to humanize the foul-mouthed mercs. If there’s one character I care about by this point, it’s Luisa, who has now demonstrated her aptitude for violence and humor and is now supported by a rich emotional core.
Speaking of cores, the story would be nothing without its art. Drawn in a clean, black-and-white style, Declan and Chang is easy to follow and full of visual gags. I loved so much Billy Dee and Elvis’ attempts at lying their way past a situation, and it was due to the art. It’s difficult to get a bead on the setting of the comic, with both modern-day and futuristic designs incorporated at every turn, but things make sense and there’s never any question as to what something is.
Lebevre may get walked all over by the mercenaries, but this issue does give the first look at the mysterious Doc Awesome, who looks like he’s going to be quite the formidable foe. I will add that I’m glad there wasn’t a lot of Jersey in this issue. The scantily clad enforcer of Doc Awesome has thus far been the one low point of my Declan and Chang experience, and I can’t wait for Luisa or one of the boys to riddle her with holes.
Four Corpse Puppets out of Five