(BOOM! Studios, 2014)
Created & Written by Max Bemis
Illustrated by Ransom Getty
Colored by Chris Blythe
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Comic books are an escape. For the reader they are, by their very nature, a way to have a scant 22 pages to yourself, quiet and calm no matter what may be happening in the pages. But flip that around to the writer and artists’ viewpoint, and they become the exact opposite. Like any other form of media they are a mouthpiece for ideas, a way to get everything out there, whether it be as light as My Little Pony or heavy social commentary, like Maus, they have the unique ability to reach vastly different strata of the population.
That being said…frickin’ Boom! What a company. It seems that their penchant for awesome keeps on going.
Evil Empire falls on the heavier side. It asks weighty questions…proposes “what if’s” that are debated even today, looks at the worst fears of (usually) the weaker of the two (one?) main political parties and blasts them across the pages, showing the reader what could be. Then it wraps it all up with great art.
It begins with a look at how things are now, (Exactly 25 years into the future.) and tells how the planet has become the policeman of the stars. It shows how a good deed can go completely and wrongly punished, and then asks the question, “How did we get here?”
Flashback to present day, the real “now”, when, amidst a grueling and ugly presidential race, there is a murder of the incumbent’s wife and the final page shocker…well let’s just say that it’s a gut-punch moment.
Max Bemis (Polarity, Say Anything) has woven an incredibly fascinating tale. He takes the “great power/great responsibility” trope that we grew up on and turns it around. What if those in power show absolutely no responsibility? Take that great power and use it for his or her own nefarious gains?
One cannot help but look for connections in modern day politics, when it seems that everyone is in someone’s pocket, when people like Edward Snowden are on the run for telling the truth, when people like the members of Pussy Riot are imprisoned for singing a song, it doesn’t seem like too far of a jump to think that down the road we could be citizen-prisoners or that the country could be policed by a group of masked thugs.
Ransom Getty (Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Globe) has drawn a beautiful book. His style is realistic and he has a mastery of facial expression. In the final gut-punch scene you can almost see the evil and cruelty dripping off the page. There is also a sequence where a woman is murdered, and he panels the pages beautifully, making sure that the events that happen just afterwards are framing the murder itself, so the events just after the murder are monochromatically documented…it’s a very cool sequence.
Max Bemis has a great concept and has executed this just as he does his characters, efficiently and without mercy. I expect that the next issue of Evil Empire will be as gripping as the first, dragging us kicking and screaming into the future and all that that entails.
Click Image to Purchase “Evil Empire” #1 From Amazon.com:
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.