Page 45 Review by Stephen
Terrorism. Communication. Authorative anti-authoritarianism. One man's enlightenment is the same man's indoctrination. Stop being a sheep, and be part of my flock instead!
This is not your standard comicbook. It's not your standard narrative structure, and it's not your standard non-authorial voice, either. Sub-titled "a lie told in six-parts", this series wants you to question everything. It wants you to question the media, it wants you to question the comic's own Voice, and Jonathan Hickman would very much like it if you question yourself.
When I was ten my Maths teacher told us something very profound: "Always ask why!" Question everything, I think he meant, though I suppose I should have asked "Why?"
Communication is the world's most powerful tool, and everyone has an angle - me, Jonathan Hickman, my own maths teacher - and not least the U.S. media, owned as they are by a load of profit-orientated mega-companies, and compromised therefore on any stories about products or people they control. Well, when I say "load", I mean owned chiefly by six, and Hickman helpfully tells you who owns what in one of his customary side-bars here:
"To find out more about media consolidation, read this section. However, if you're like me and only care about your own shopping convenience (certainly not anything like iPods made at work camps in China), keep reading at the bottom of this page!"
This is what I mean by an unconventional narrative structure. You know how I'm always harping on about how the pages should flow, how you shouldn't be thrown out of the narrative by jarring devices or too much laboured exposition or artwork...? This is an exception, because this isn't your regular story. It's more of a colour-coded map of conflicting ideas, of sly slights of hands, of confident, confrontational claims and counter-claims so that you have absolutely no choice but to decide what you think for yourself.
A man is on a mission. Alienated from society, he's picked up by The Voice and his cult. And The Voice has told him to kill. Kill not the politicians, but the reporters. And he does so, on camera. But who is The Voice and why is he speaking?
"To be clear, this is not a political book," lies Hickman in the back. I wouldn't trust him for a second, but then I know he wouldn't want me to. The collected edition boasts pages of extra annotations, for Jonathan is not only a thinker but one articulate enough to argue his points with power and conviction and an authority backed up by evidence. There's also a very useful little statement on personal commitment, about how you can let yourself be your own creative enemy by resisting the opportunity to sit down and actually work, and how that resistance is seductive.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in socio-political debate, from readers of Brian Wood's DMZ to Dave Sim's analyses, and to those who enjoy design. A lot of thought's gone into that as well.
Brian K. Vaughan: "A totally unique thriller."
Brian Michael Bendis: "A comic created with pure creative rage! A tour de force in graphic design as story and I loved it!"