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I'm Reading Comeeks

I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc.  And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.

America Sucks

Negative Space - Ryan K Lindsay, Owen Gieni We Stand On Guard - Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce, Matt Hollingsworth

In these two comics we take a look at an alternate America.  


Negative Space conjectures that a tentacled...species of creature (which no doubt will be compared to genitals) are disturbed when man encounters them at the bottom of the sea.  These creatures feed off of negative emotions and they can't get enough.  In fear we decide to monetize this relationship by creating a company whose mission is to find 'empaths' (or emotional people...but seriously, who isn't emotional? Let me post a digression here:

I was recently at a speaker event where the speaker talked about how hard the world was on sensitive people.  The speaker compared themselves, and other sensitives, to the canary in the coal mine. While the rest of us non-feeling insensitive people go on with our lives unaware of turmoil, the canary withers, trying to warn us that the pain of the declining bee population will soon be our pain.  They suffer, while the 'normal' population is ignorant and happy.  Sensitives are necessary to show what poisons our world and get us to realize we need change.


I can't say that I was enamored of this theory,that, in my opinion, was very discriminatory.  I, personally, am the type of person who prefers to keep my emotions under the surface.  I am anti-canary, you'd never know by looking at me what I was feeling, my heart is decidedly not on my sleeve.  Does that make me the opposite of sensitive?  Does that make me insensitive?  Does that make me less likely to recognize things that are poisoning the world?  I don't think so.  I just means that I choose to feel things and react to things differently.


If I wail and cry about something, does that make me more emotional, or does it just make me more visibly emotional?  Do I need someone else to witness my emotions to validate them?  If I cry about the dying bees, does that help the bees?  What if I don't cry about the bees or the polar bears or the eagles or the whales, but instead donate time or money to causes to support changes?  While the canary sits in it's cage emoting, I elect to act instead.  End diatribe.

(show spoiler)


Sorry about that, that's been in my head for a while and this comic spurred it to come out, because I think many people have had a similar idea that informs the plot of this comic.  The idea that someone out there has it out for you.  That someone out there is causing crappy things to happen to you.  I think many people have had that thought.  I used to blame stupid crappy things that happened to me on a guy I made up called Hans, whose job it was to drive me insane.  In this comic it is only sensitive people who are targeted by a group that is quite plainly paid to drive people into despair.


That's the basic premise here, plus some tentacled monsters.  The tentacle monsters find human grief, depression and other negative emotions very tasty.  If we don't supply enough they will rise from the deep and wreak havoc upon the world.  So a company was created to find especially emotionally resonate people, empaths, and make them miserable, the desired end result to drive them to suicide.  Objects involved in emotionally fraught times, (such as means of suicide, bomb fragments, sunken planes, etc.) are valued by the tentacled beasts.


So our main character is a Native American guy, who is pretty depressed because among other things, his father killed himself, he's all alone, he hasn't written anything good, and his life is a series of bad jokes.  All, of course, caused by this unscrupulous company.  He's finally chosen to end his life, but of course, he's got writers block for his suicide note.


Then he gets caught up in a revolutionary group that wants to detonate a happiness bomb in the citadel of the tentacled creatures, thereby destroying them.  He just needs to think of one happy thought.  (Like Peter Pan).


It wasn't bad, but it wasn't particularly good either.  Also the design of the evil monsters was a bit insultingly a toothed vagina.  Can't dudes come up with anything more original?


We stand On Guard on the other hand was really more about an alternate Canada than America.  War has been declared on our neighbor to the north and Canadian citizens must flee into the Northern Territories to escape.  Our main character has been living in the woods on her own for years, ever since her brother saved her life by surrendering to American forces while she ran.  Living near Yellowknife (the capitol city of the Northern Territories) she's been left in relative peace, until now.  Now in a few short hours she meets up with the last of a rebel force and takes on the might of the American military forces.


What is this war about?  What is it always about?  Resources!  It turns out that the real reason behind the American invasion had little to do with terrorist threats.  And did I mention the giant robots?  There are giant robots, virtual reality torture and slavery is back!  Isn't the American future just the greatest...(too bad it's actually not that easy to emigrate to Canada, you actually need a reason beyond, "I don't like who got voted into the Oval Office.")


I loved the strong characters throughout, though the character development wasn't great across the board, but still most characters got at least some depth added to them.


Overall, very well done.  Something to read on Guy Fawks day.