3.26.2014

3.26.14 [Weekly Reviews]

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Hacktivist #3 (Archaia): When I worked at Cisco for 11 years, my CEO John Chambers used to say that the internet is “the great equalizer,” in that access -> information -> communication -> influence -> control, and I’ve always been fascinated by these logic chains. I sometimes use the "Education = Knowledge = Power = Respect" loop when I conduct training classes. Anyway, you can see that first concussive logic chain present in the textual theory of Hacktivist. If you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in places like Turkey, then you know that Hacktivist is one of the most relevant books currently available. There’s a bit of role reversal here from writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, because Nate is now stepping up to provide leadership for the company, out of the shadow of Ed, who many saw as the brains of the operation. Meanwhile, with Ed in the field in Tunisia, it puts him in a much more hands-on tactical role instead of the strategic cloud-pushing he was probably used to. There’s some nice dramatic tension created by placing these guys in unfamiliar roles. As much as I loved the Silicon Valley bits in the preceding issue, the action on the streets of Tunisia was phenomenal here as well, as Ed encounters Sirine and Beya. There’s an undercurrent of an idea here I like, that things like transformative companies (be it Apple, Cisco, or YourLife) or the heart of a movement are not really these big nebulous concepts, they’re just comprised of individual people. The tech is still slick as hell, centered on the notion of complex pattern recognition, or a system of offline decentralized networks that tickles our futurist fancy. Marcus To is killing it on art, quickly improving with each successive issue. There’s a dynamic realism to his art, which is grounded enough to be believable, yet kinetic enough to capture the daring raids of what feels like a cinematic thriller. Deron Bennett deserves a special shout for lettering, particularly the way he composes the novel progression from English to Arabic to French in one key conversation, using some fresh linguistic cues. I’ve been championing this series down at the LCS as one of the best books of the year, and encouraging people not to dismiss it as a Hollywood vanity project just because Alyssa Milano’s name is attached. Hacktivist is the real deal. With only one issue left, I’ll be sad to see it end. But, here’s hoping that Archaia will collect it in a swanky hardcover with their lush production values, and it’ll experience multiple lives, first in the book market, and then for the horde at SDCC this year. Grade A.

The Bunker #2 (Oni Press): Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari continue the deepening mystery of The Bunker. The central premise of discovering notes from your future self is such a pure and engaging idea. Do you trust your future self? Do you blindly follow what the notes indicate? What does this say about free will vs. fate? They’re meat-y thematic notions to chew on, and Infurnari’s sketchy raw art matches the high emotion and uncertainty of a story concerned with The Butterfly Effect. From singular events like a bomb in downtown San Francisco, to genetically manipulated foods and mass extinction, the world-build has the characters agonizing over every decision, and creating a taut drama for the audience. Grade A.

The Wake #7 (DC/Vertigo): Sean Murphy delivers an absolute visual feast in this issue, with converted cruise ships and rigged Sanford & Sons zeppelins. While it’s true that most of the issue is dedicated to an action sequence and feels like merely a slice of the larger whole, there’s a fairly important revelation that toward the end that could shake up the internal mythology something fierce. I still maintain that WB will be crazy for not exercising their built-in option on Vertigo properties and milking The Wake; Scott Snyder has delivered a cool world-build surrounding an alt future America, which has the right level of pop for an adaptation to film. Grade A-.

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