RICK AND MORTY #34 by Kyle Starks
Story
Art
Characterization
Summary
Although at some points it simply seems like we're being carried from point A to point B, RICK AND MORTY #34 successfully expands on one of the series' many fascinating characters.
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RIP Krombopolus Michael

Written and illustrated by series regular Kyle Starks, RICK AND MORTY #34 chronicles Krombopolus Michael’s life before and during the events of the episode.

Let’s be realistic — we’re not going to be getting another season of RICK AND MORTY for a while. Let it sink in. Accept it. Maybe go harass some McDonald’s workers about mediocre dipping sauce, do what you gotta do. Have the stages of grief finish coursing their way through your genius brain? Then take a seat and pick up RICK AND MORTY #34 from Oni Press.

RICK AND MORTY #34 is yet another one-off in the ongoing comic series. This prevents any serious character development from happening within Rick’s family. However, these one-offs are also a great way to expand on little pieces of the RICK AND MORTY universe. The main story in this issue brings back Krombopolus Michael from season two’s “Mortynight Run.” 

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Long Live Krombopolus Michael

By far, the strongest part of the issue is the first few scenes. We open with a briefing at the Galactic Federation, where Krombopolus Michael is a recent hire. During introductions, he refers to himself as (just) Michael and explains that he just really loves killing. The leader quickly spots an issue — there are two Michaels present. Since he met the other Michael at a mixer earlier, he renames our guy “Krombopolus Michael” (because that’s where Michael is from). There’s a lovely absurdity to this that sets the tone for the rest of the issue. K-Mike’s passion for killing isn’t problematic at his new workplace, but there definitely cannot be two Michaels.

RICK AND MORTY #34
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

K-Mike takes what is possibly too much initiative at the Galactic Federation, cementing his enthusiasm for carnage. Then, RICK AND MORTY #34 jumps ahead in time. Enter Rick (and Birdperson)! Rick and K-Mike meet for the first time in a shady bar. But this is no chance meeting. K-Mike, now in the private sector, is there to purchase a weapon from a younger, but still ruthless, Rick.

The comic skips ahead again to where an older Rick is still selling K-Mike weapons while praising the virtues of love in a super un-Rick-like fashion. K-Mike just doesn’t get it, but Rick promises one day he will. And guess what? K-Mike and a lovely lady named Amy fall in love and eventually marry. Supplied with weapons from Rick, K-Mike then continues his career as an assassin.

The final scenes in the comic take place parallel to the events of “Mortynight Run.” And yeah, RIP Krombopolus Michael. However, it’s revealed that K-Mike’s widow vows to fill his blood-soaked shoes.

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A Pair of Cold-Blooded Killers

At times, the progression through time seems to be simply a device to get from K-Mike’s stellar introduction to the events of the referenced episode.  There aren’t really any surprising tidbits between the beginning and the end. In the episode, we’re meant to believe that Rick and K-Mike have regularly done business with one another. We already know this coming into the issue, so this doesn’t need to be established in RICK AND MORTY #34. The whole middle part of the comic might be unnecessary, especially since it so transparently brings us from point A to point B.

RICK AND MORTY #34
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

Despite the pacing issues, RICK AND MORTY #34 successfully creates a parallel between Rick and K-Mike. Both characters are calculated and ruthless in their own ways — Rick in his nihilism and K-Mike in his violence. However, we love both characters for these iconic flaws. Seeing K-Mike fall in love is undoubtedly humanizing. It’s much like seeing Rick’s softer moments, even if the series often undercuts those scenes. Overall, this drives home what we already know about this multiverse. When an infinite number of universes exist, meaning-making evolves into something very alien. However, at their core, deeply human impulses motivate even the strangest of characters.

Seeing the events of the comic run parallel to the events of the episode is also pretty cool. This doesn’t just flesh out K-Mike as a character. It also allows us to see why he and Rick respect each other so much. In addition, I think Rick’s gushing about love works as a parallel to “The Rickshank Rickdemption.” After all, our man K-Mike and the infamous Cornvelious Daniel are both Gromflomites from the Galactic Federation who contemplate love along with Rick. 

Rick and Morty and Kyle

Writer and artist Kyle Starks is known for creating SEX CASTLE, KILL THEM ALL, and my personal favorite, ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN. He’s been writing for the RICK AND MORTY comic on and off since 2016. RICK AND MORTY and Kyle Starks continue to be a match made in multiverse heaven. Seriously, this pairing makes so much sense.

RICK AND MORTY #34
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

It’s quite difficult to find something bad to say about this art. It’s a perfect merging of Stark’s own style and the world of RICK AND MORTY. Kyle Starks’ art is always inviting with its thick-lines and stylized characters. And then it always punches you in the gut with violence. Starks continues this tonal juxtaposition with his writing, which punctuates his hyper-violent subject matter with tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Starks’ tone is a brilliant fit within RICK AND MORTY, culminating in action that is both unforgiving and silly. 

Final Thoughts on RICK AND MORTY #34

I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the backup comic by Magdalene Visaggio (KIM & KIM) and Marc Ellerby, which is a must-read. The Smith family’s antics recommence in “The Rick Identity 3,” which continues the backup comics from RICK AND MORTY #31 and #33. The backup is more in line with what you’d expect from an episode of the television series. Both in terms of plotting and of art style.

RICK AND MORTY #34 is another solid entry in a series that should help hold the rabid fanbase over until we finally get a season 4. In the meantime, hopefully, we’ll see more and more characters like Krombopolus Michael get the spotlight. Either way, I’m sure Oni Press’ RICK AND MORTY team will continue to crank out stellar comics.

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