Written by: Kyle Starks
Illustrated by: Chris Schweizer
Colouring Assists by: Liz Trice Schweizer
Edited by: Jon Moisan
Trigger Keaton was a martial arts world champion. Trigger Keaton was a television star with several hits under his belt and an array of former and current co-stars. Trigger Keaton was an arsehole. Trigger Keaton was murdered, and almost no one cares. Almost no one except Miles Nguyen, Keaton’s most recent television sidekick in a police procedural whose crash course in detective skills leaves him unwilling to believe that Keaton committed suicide and who finds himself recruiting some of his fellow former sidekicks to help him solve the murder. This is the premise of Kyle Starks’ (Sexcastle; Assassin Nation, Rock Candy Mountain) and Chris Schweizer’s (Rock Candy Mountain, the Crogan’s series of OGNs, Mars Attacks) new series from Image Comics.
In contrast to Stark’s previous works our protagonist isn’t an ultimate badass or former world’s greatest assassin, that person is ignominiously dead just a few pages in. Our protagonists are the people whose lives this person touched.
Whilst we only get a closer look at a couple of the six sidekicks in this issue they each show different ways in which a person can be effected by a toxic relationship. Paul Hernandez (his first sidekick) has managed to largely move on, has left acting and found a new life supporting his community by working in nursing. Terry Komodo (his second) recognises Trigger’s mountain of failings but finds ways to excuse them and still worships him even trying to imitate him. We see the shape of Paul and Trigger’s relationship in the opening flashback to the issue, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the filming of their television show Marshal Art (a Walker: Texas Ranger style show), where Keaton humiliates a then 12-year-old Hernandez and abuses various other members of the cast and crew. This, alongside some TV guide listings for the various shows and newspaper clippings about Keaton’s controversies that come with each sidekicks introduction, help inform the history of his career, his self-sabotage, and the poison he brought into people’s lives.
The TV guide listings also give the names of each of Keaton’s shows and they are pretty fantastic! Frankenstein & Frankenstein; Spaceboat 3030, Sidecar, and Precinct Blues. Like most of Starks’ comics, Six Sidekicks manages to juggle the serious, emotional drama and laugh-out-loud comedy. There are many standout moments; the creation of the concept of Pocket Beer, Komodo’s regular insistence that Hernandez fight him and the background jokes like the “God must have needed a little more kung-fu in heaven” banner at Trigger’s funeral to name just a few. Schweizer’s excellent character work and costuming is vital in conveying a lot of the comedy, it gives a sense of the people who we are laughing at or with. Nguyen’s defined cheekbones, perfect suit and constant stiffness give a hint of Adrian Monk. Komodo’s dragon print robe with cargo pants, alcoholic’s nose, and ponytail-sideburn-moustache combo create the perfect simulacrum of a kind of person you may have never met but know is out there.
If you have a fondness for action, comedy, bad TV shows, and martial arts, then make sure to tune in to The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton.