6.04.2008

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Skyscrapers of the Midwest (AdHouse Books): Joshua Cotter’s personalized tale of life in the American Heartland is an insightful look into the bleak trappings of a once fabled existence. For me, Cotter’s commentary takes the stand that this piece of Western civilization is a collapsing paradigm. The lifestyle and culture of the… (ahem) Red States is waning during a time where in the real world, the US President has an all time high disapproval rating and charismatic Illinois Senator Barack Obama appears to be the presumptive Democratic Nominee, destined to take the Oval Office. It makes for a nice art-imitating-life duality. Cotter gives us people replaced with robots, supplanting their mundane existence as mindless automatons just going through the motions of everyday life. In other passages, the lead character fashions himself as a robotic savior during his yearning and transcendent daydreams as if to achieve a sense of pure escapism from the childhood foibles of cruel kids and oppressive parents. Not only does Cotter showcase the decline of Middle America, he even comments a bit on US foreign policy. There’s a quick strip entitled “Elsewhere, In The Cosmos” that is entertaining, but belies hidden commentary on imperialism and a scorched Earth motif. We go on to see the demise of many conservative right wing facets of culture, including the death of Skinny Kenny, the idiotic hypocrisy of Big Tobacco, and a nice spread on merit badges that challenges the ridiculously inevitable notions of what’s typically expected of young suburbanites. Skyscrapers of the Midwest is full of post 9-11 commentary and utilizes the play-within-a-play Nova Stealth sequence in the tradition of Hamlet and the pirate scenes in Watchmen to relay ideas that are more about the book’s core message than would superficially suggest. This is an impressive debut work from a brilliant creator. Kudos to James Sime of Isotope, AdHouse, Warren Ellis, and everyone else who’s supported Cotter’s burgeoning career in the field. Grade A+.

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