struck anyone else as funny that in a country founded on the
idea of personal freedom, more and more people are seeking
to limit said freedom?
States has a bevy of special interest groups that pull political
strings to get what they want, like The Christian Right and
parent watchdog groups, who seek to "protect the nation's
morality" by censoring us. Parental advisories are put
on everything from CDs to video games. Wal-mart, apparently
the only moral compass present in our lives, only sells censored
CDs, while television shows now feature little ratings boxes
for fear that some poor child might stumble upon a particularly
jarring episode of Power Rangers or Pokemon.
What's that? It's TV: Y you say? Well good thing, otherwise
little Timmy might have had his values challenged, and we
can't be having that now, can we?
does this censorship end? What's the line that can't be crossed,
lest America become about as free as East Germany? In Channel
Zero, Brian Wood shows us the line, tells us we've crossed
it, and then shows us how to step back over.
book, America is a very different place. Thanks to the Clean
Act, a bill forced through Congress by special interest groups
(the aforementioned Christian Right among them), broadcast
and print media have been taken over by the government. All
the news, entertainment and advertisements are handled by
good old Uncle Sam. It is illegal to possess high-end video
equipment, carrying a lengthy prison sentence to do so, and
it's also illegal to broadcast anything not government-sanctioned.
The thing is, not too many people care to notice.
who does notice is Jennie 2.5. She finds a way to hack the
system and get her underground message to America with pirated
video material. Her only problem is that America thinks she's
just another show. Jennie has to find a way to escape her
newfound celebrity and then see if there's anyway to save
the nation from itself.
Jennie more as a vehicle for getting his anti-censorship message
across than he does as an actual protagonist. Her story is
left open-ended at the end of this collection, and nothing
is really explained about her (I hear tell that a new miniseries,
out this year, called Jennie 1.0 will explain the character's
beginnings). But this is okay, as it's not Wood's characterization
that makes this a good book, so much as it is the way he elicits
anger and frustration from the reader.
America doesn't care what our government does. Our voter turnout
is in the 40% range and most of us couldn't name our states'
Congressmen if we were standing in front of them, begging
for votes. We're apathetic.
the consequences of apathy down our throats with Channel Zero;
he gets us angry that someone could control what shows we
watch and what news we have access to. One of his best writing
techniques is to parallel the news heard in other countries,
compared to Clean-Act-American news: journalism that is so
yellow it should be called "canary."
double duty, Wood also draws the series, giving him unique
control of the message. While his basic line work isn't anything
special (it's something of a mix between Frank Miller's exaggerated
shadows and negative space and Michael Turner's detailed face
work), it really does create a "revolution vibe"
with its stark black and whites and Xerox-like pseudo-flyers
and advertisements that encourage the reader to "photocopy
this page" and distribute it.
Zero</I> is published by Image comics and it's pretty
pricey for a black and white, four issue collection at $14.95,
but it's Image. They're not known for really savvy business
decisions ("Yeah, let's start a company with Rob Leifeld!
He's sure not to screw us and leave the company to start his
own. Not that plucky little penciler").
of on the fence with this title. I like it a lot, but if you're
one who doesn't prefer to be preached to in a comic, then
it isn't for you. Opinions aside, it must be said that Wood
has brought political activism to modern mainstream comics
and he's done it well. For his next trick, he'll bring social-class
awareness to video games, and gender equality to RPGs (not
really, but I thought it was funny. See you in a week).