Coming from the mind and talent of writer/artist Livio Ramondelli (The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, The Tansformers: More than Meets the Eye), IDW’s The Kill Lock tells an intriguing and imaginative story about four robotic beings sentenced to death and bound to one another by their unfortunate shared fate. The second issue of the original series dropped in comic book shops this week, expanding on the incredible first issue, touching on themes of capital punishment, racism, and class structure, and adding additional layers to an already fascinating story.
The Kill Lock #2 follows our crew of robot protagonists on their way to “a world of degeneracy and degradation unbound” in search of the cure to their own deadly connection: a fatal sentence known as “the kill lock.” Linked internally, the four criminals must work together, for if one of them dies, all four will die. Additionally, readers get a brief peek into the past of one of the quartet – The Laborer – and the unfortunate events that caused him to be burdened with his punishment and current situation.
Ramondelli has long been known for his breathtaking artwork for iconic franchises like Transformers and Star Wars, but, with The Kill Lock, the creator establishes himself not only as an amazingly talented visual artist, but also as an original and visionary storyteller. The cast of characters in The Kill Lock are complex, captivating, and feature incredibly distinct personalities that readers are sure to find compelling. Additionally, as issue #2 demonstrates, this mini-series is far more than mindless fun and an excuse for Ramondelli to draw robots. (Something he’s ridiculously good at, by the way.) The second issue of The Kill Lock not only expands the world of living machines Ramondelli has built, but touches on topics and themes of class structure, racism, and corporal punishment.
As some of our readers may know, as part of Fanbase Press’ 10th anniversary, we’ve recently announced a company-wide initiative called #StoriesMatter which focuses on how universal communication through stories allows us to examine the essentials of human existence, to understand ourselves better and to grow and/or heal, to pass on importance values, knowledge, and lessons to the next generation, and to connect with one another through empathy and compassion. Ramondelli’s The Kill Lock is a stellar example of why stories matter and how they can offer far, far more than basic and temporary entertainment value. While there are plenty of robot-filled stories and franchise sequels in recent memory that rely on flashy visuals over substance, Ramondelli’s original sci-fi tale, while filled with gorgeous artwork and stunning visuals throughout, seems more akin to the valuable and thought-provoking examinations of artificial intelligence we see in films like Ex Machina, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Alien franchise, or the first two Terminator films.
While featuring androids and robotic creations, these stories each, at their core, speak to our own humanity and moral complexities. There are many themes I mentioned previously that can be examined in The Kill Lock, but the soul of the story seems to speak to two concepts worth pondering: the damage caused to the individual through of an oppressive and unforgiving class structure and the validity of the use of the death penalty. Each of the robotic characters in the series reflects on how their imperfections (or, frankly, inability to conform) has not only isolated them within their own class, but hint at the depressing and crushing nature of being limited by society’s prescribed determination of who and what they are, as well as the limitations placed on what they can achieve or experience in their lives. Furthermore, while some of the characters (especially the sociopathic individual known as The Artisan) may deserve some form of punishment for their crimes, it’s clear through Ramondelli’s writing and depictions that this is not a world of appropriate justice and even the very concept of “the kill lock” as a form of death penalty speaks to an inherit cruelty and loathing from those dealing it out. As Crime and Punishment author Fyodor Dostoyevsky has often been quoted, “A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.” This is a statement that not only applies to the themes and characters of The Kill Lock, but should cause any reader to think about our own society and forms of criminal punishment. It must be admitted that it’s hard to judge a comic series’ message and importance before the last issue drops, but there’s a sense in Ramondelli’s writing that these subjects are not being frivolously included and will not be cast aside casually in future issues. Much remains to be seen, but for readers just diving into the second issue of the series, it would be surprising if the subjects raised by the series fail to stay with one long after they finish reading the latest issue.
FINAL VERDICT: While we’ve just begun the new year, The Kill Lock is coming out of the gates with an incredibly strong showing for the indie comic scene. Fans of Ramondelli’s previous work and lovers of original sci-fi stories will not want to miss a single issue of this series. The artwork is absolutely beautiful, the characters layered and engaging, and the story itself has a rare depth and poignancy. Add this one to your pull list immediately.
Creative Team: Livio Ramondelli (story and art), Tom B. Long (letters)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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