Review by Cory Thrall
WRITTEN BY: Ovi Demetrian Jr.
ARTWORK BY: James Whynot
“Hacktivity” is a comic that deals with some infinitely important questions about our ‘modern’ lifestyle and the fight for personal privacy, government transparency, and the way our personal information and the actions of authority can be used and abused, or even abusive. It is truly a product of today’s culture both in subject matter and presentation.
The main character of this title is TF, a hacker known in his circle for being overtly paranoid and intensely bent on exposing any documents or information that takes aim at personal privacy, both online and off, and the moves governmental bodies make against these issues. When we open, TF is in a large amount of trouble with the FBI for doing just that - exposing documents that, while ‘public documentation’, seem to not actually be meant for public consumption. This is only the base of the story, though, as most of it unfolds without our main character and takes life in the online world and through the media.
What makes this comic so successful is its use of the very world TF lives and thrives in - the social networking and blog aspects of the internet. In one of the most effective devices I’ve yet to see, we learn most of what we need to know through in-comic Facebook conversations, chat rooms, Twitter posts, and more. This gives the whole piece a deeply grounded spot in the way life works for a majority of the world, and especially for the group of ‘users’ that are represented here. This is such a perfect way to tell this story, but I do hope for more character based storytelling in future issues. This works in every way needed for this first issue and, while I love it and hope this book continues to utilize it, I’m hoping it levels out so we can gather more of the story from the telling of the story, as opposed to the ‘reporting’ of what happens. Again, a great set-up that works 100%. I just want to get in these characters heads as well as their internet.
This may all make it sound a bit too ‘heady’, but the seamless storytelling and approach to the varying sides of the case never gets preachy or overtly condemning. It gives you (mostly) unbiased opinions from the characters and without shoving any point down the throat of the reader it gives them a chance to decide for themselves how they feel. This comic is obviously aimed towards the misuse of information, and the viewpoint is that of one sympathetic to the plight of the hacker protagonist, but even with that I never felt as if I was being told I should feel one way or another. And that’s one of the strengths of this book.
This is a hard subject and an important discussion that needs to be had by all sides. It’s a real issue, regardless of how you may feel about it, and one that is going to be a major talking point and birth of activism for some time to come. In an ever changing online environment this and even more will rise to the top and make waves. This is a discussion that needs to be had sooner rather than later, and this comic does a wonderful job of bringing some of the main points of the issue to the reader in an easy to understand way, but without talking down or taking the role of ‘teacher’.
The writing from Demetrian Jr. is solid throughout, and very realistic in many ways - from posts on the internet, to politicians and more. The narrative may be a bit loose and depends a lot on the social media aspects of the title, but it’s seamless and original, and that gives it a voice all its own. I do have one gripe, however. There is a scene where we have a large protest in front of a courthouse. A TV News crew arrives and for some unexplainable reason the reporter has no idea what is going on or who the case involves. In a comic (as in our reality) where the media is such a large part of the deal this is a huge misstep. Obviously, any protest that large over such a hot button issue would be packed with well informed, ready to go reporters. This lone reporter who seems to have no clue what her job his or what she’s there to report is a glaring spot in the comic. For a moment it takes you out of the world that the comic had been creating up to that point.
The artwork is one of the highlights of this book, as Whynot’s work is a great mix of large, chunky blacks and scratchy lines, with a level of presence and emotion in the figures that makes them feel larger than life - perfect for a comic with such important subject matter. His work seems effortless, and is really a treat to look at and pour over. It has a nice style to it that reminds one of Sean Murphy with a bit of Ted McKeever. It’s a perfect fit for the script, and when it’s all put together it’s a very effective mix.
“Hacktivity” has launched with a great first issue, one that raises huge questions and gives you the pieces to form your own opinion. While leaning a bit to the side of the hacker TF and his plight, I still came away feeling it was a balanced comic. With the great script and amazing artwork, this is a title I will definitely be watching out for.
You can find all the info you need about “Hacktivity” by visiting their site: www.hacktivitycomic.com
Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27