Comic Heroes - - Comics We Rate - James Love­grove

Short of ty­ing you up with a pair of tie-dye flares and beat­ing you over the head with a bong, May­day does ev­ery­thing it can to trans­port you back to the early ’70s. Cold War ten­sions? Check. Hal­lu­cino­gen-fu­elled sex? Check. Riot po­lice bru­tally sup­press­ing hip­pie protest? Check and check.

May­day is the first of a pro­posed string of es­pi­onage minis­eries that writer Alex de Campi de­scribes as “Mad Men, but with con­sid­er­ably more mur­der”. It fol­lows a pair of Rus­sian agents sent to the US to kill a de­fect­ing gen­eral who has a mi­cro­film con­tain­ing the names of ev­ery Soviet op­er­a­tive in the Far East. Known only by their co­de­names, Felix and Rose, the two are rum­bled by the CIA and go on the run. Like Bon­nie and Clyde, or per­haps Caril Ann Fu­gate and Charles Stark­weather, they’re young, des­per­ate fugi­tives who leave a blood-soaked trail, but our sym­pa­thies are with them all the same. In the hey­day of the coun­ter­cul­ture, any­one who re­sists The Man – how­ever vi­o­lently – be­comes a hero.

De Campi pep­pers her script with a “sound­track” of mu­sic sug­ges­tions to evoke mood and era, while Tony Parker, us­ing a lean line rem­i­nis­cent of Frank Quitely, pro­vides Dutch an­gles, “off” fram­ing and spa­cious com­po­si­tions that echo the cin­ema of the pe­riod. The re­sult is a com­pelling por­trait of Amer­ica turn­ing sour, Wood­stock giv­ing way to Charles Man­son, seen through the eyes of out­siders whose own ideals are be­com­ing com­pro­mised.

For­get the of­fice. We won’t be back.

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