Page 45 Review by Stephen
In which Kot and eelj project American politics just a few years down the line from where they are now. As you might suspect, they aren't very pretty.
"The United States of America, 2022.
"The loss that ripped them apart drove one into the arms of the police state and the other towards a guerrilla war against the white supremacy. Now they meet again. This is a story of a war."
Wars, of course, are increasingly fought with far more than fire power: information is everything - as is disinformation and coercion, backed up by threats to your nearest and dearest.
2022, by the way, is no universal dystopia - and it's certainly not post-apocalyptic - for most of mainstream society's getting on with life as usual, just as it generally does whatever the threats to others' civil liberties. It's not they who've been targeted. Most of mainstream society doesn't care what happens to minorities.
"Remember when we all hated on 2016 online? Called it a "trash fire"?
"And then on 2017? 2018, the elections?
"People don't even hate on 2022. We're catatonic."
But the internment camps are back for the dregs of society and Peter Freeman, head investigator of the Special National Police Force Unit for the Matters of Domestic Terrorism, could not be more delighted. That's what happens when right-wing shit gets normalised.
He's summoned a Person of Interest, by the way, one Huian Xing, and is interrogating her in a most affable manner. Will she tell him what he wants to know? The chances are, he already knows it.
He knows about her wife, Amanda, what happened to their child, and so what happened to their relationship.
Amanda is regarded as far more than a Person of Interest. She's on Peter Freeman's Most Wanted list. Now, it appears, he has an ally in Huian
"She destroyed my life.
"I'm finally ready to return the favour."
Meanwhile, some of the white supremacist here are holed up here in an open concrete retail park's Herbie's American Dining, on the outside as bland as can be, on the inside oppressively adorned with almost every inch of wall space decked out in red-and-white-striped, nationalistic Americana: giant, overbearing, emblematic bald eagles, wings stretched out proprietarily across flags.
It's a social occasion, and they are far from stupid. Nor are they inhuman: never make that mistake. Dehumanisation is their preferred province. But the ladies will soon be heading out while the men discuss matters of domestic terrorism. Just not the sort that Peter Freeman's interested in investigating: who even cares about the queers?
Fortunately someone else does.
"Multiple molotovs thrown through the windows and someone somehow accidentally left a few well-placed and easily flammable objects in close proximity to specifically those windows. Oh, and the doors got locked from the outside and the bouncers got shot.
"Clearly an accident."
eelj excels at the toxic. Not necessarily the chemically toxic, but the socially unsafe, precarious, treacherous. His rough-hewn, shadow-heavy art is haunted. You can see the skulls beneath faces.
Oh, but this sprawling city shines in the dark! Its glossy skyscrapers, glowing with uncaring activity, rear between busy bypasses, overpasses, underpasses, all snaking circuitously in coils round Los Angeles.
Was that a bomb going off?
So yes, with Jordie Bellaire's considerable colour enhancement, Zelzelj can do sleek and slick too. Those freeways are almost wet with light in the night.
Once out in the countryside the line and colour artists open up so much space! Although, you will note that the darkness remains, both at ground level and hovering above like an oppressive shroud.
It's in the countryside that you will meet Xing's parents, when she calls home. But Peter Freeman got there first.
Her father's a novelist of some renown. He has attracted Peter Freeman's attention.
"Perhaps we could... begin a correspondence? Email? Or maybe I can find you on Facebook? Twitter? Somewhere else entirely?"
"... You can add me, yes. I am on both."
"Good. I hope you're careful about what you write there. I believe in the First Amendment, of course, but some of my colleagues nowadays... they sometimes joke there's only a one-letter difference between internet and interned."
He looks away, very pleased with himself.
"Would you mind if I took your daughter for a walk?"
Ale Kot writes with carefully weighted sentences, delivering the most chilling courtesy that I can recall in comics; eelj responds with measured, telling looks.
This is the first half of a future already upon us. After that we'll be moving inexorably into LAZARUS territory. Can we please keep doing our most vocal best to ensure that this, which should never have happened, is reversed as soon as possible? Otherwise it will all begin to look increasingly familiar, normal and, yes, mundane.