American Carnage #2 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Leandro Fernandez, Artist; Dean White, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: American Carnage #2, Bryan Hill’s thrilling racism/espionage drama, ups the intensity to an almost unbearable level. As Richard, a white-passing black FBI agent, enters the world of a white supremacist cult, Hill strikes a great balance in depicting a subversive organization like this – it’s dangerous, yes, but it’s also filled with young, maladjusted men looking for any way to make themselves feel bigger. It’s pitiable and despicable at the same time, which is what makes opening scenes like the thin “Fight Club” routine that Richard gets pulled into work so well. The inner workings of the organization are fascinating as well – it’s clear that our villain, who has dreams of legitimizing white supremacy and shedding its ugly reputation, is being challenged by his sadistic deputy. There’s always been a conflict between the openly ugly side and the one that wants to cloak it in respectability.
This series, while having a lot in common with undercover mob dramas, also has a lot to say about the state of American politics. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the old white man running the show has a blonde daughter who may be the friendly face and the power behind the scenes. The issue gets its best scenes out of one-on-one conversations, as Richard tries to balance his two lives – winning over the ringleader, assuaging the ego of a bitter young member who he humiliated earlier, or sharing his intel with his tense handler. She doesn’t appear much in this issue, but her hunt to find her partner’s killer is still the core of this series. As things advance, the issue ends with a brutal and shocking cliffhanger where the lead is faced with an impossible choice. The stark racial language and visuals may definitely be too much for some readers, but those who can handle it will be rewarded with a fantastic comic.
Corrina: This is the second issue from DC Comics this week featuring Nazis. It’s not really fair to compare them, given that American Carnage is part of the Vertigo line, and Freedom Fighters #1 is a regular superhero comic, but I can’t help comparing them because American Carnage gets to the heart of why the alt-right has such a foothold, still, in America, and not an alternate reality.
Basically, young men looking for a reason to believe they matter are easily pulled into this kind of awful community. Indeed, Richard spouts alt-right phrases as he talks with the mysterious man behind it all. It’s clear our mastermind is looking for someone smarter or more compliant to take over the more violent arm of this “political” body. Even there, he’s pitting his followers against each other, showing the lies and hatred behind his facade.
This puts Richard in a terrible position. How much injustice must he endure before getting justice? That’s a basic tenant of undercover crime dramas but it resonates deeply in this series and that brutal cliffhanger just underlines the point. This is a fantastic story because it’s not just about politics–it’s about the origins of hate and the difficulty of finding justice.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.