American Carnage #6 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Leandro Gonzales, Artist; Dean White, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: We found out from the recent solicitations that American Carnage will be coming to an end with issue #9 in July. That’s disappointing, but also not a big surprise because this has always felt like a tightly wound thriller with an inevitable and likely tragic end. The masterful part of Bryan Hill and Leandro Gonzales’ racial spy saga has been how it can weave tension out of any scene, and that’s never clearer than with American Carnage #6, a fantastic issue where there’s virtually no violence – but every scene and every line of dialogue is brimming with hate and suspense. We ping-pong from one scene to another, starting with Senatorial candidate Wynn as he indoctrinates Richard into his hateful philosophy. He rails against black people, Muslims, and Jews with equal ferocity, accompanied by often poisonous visuals. The series doesn’t look away at all, and this scene is cut with a painful short segment where Jennifer asks Wynn’s long-time black maid about her feelings about Wynn’s cruelty.
As Richard’s mission to infiltrate Wynn’s organization continues to evolve, Richard seeks comfort in his alliance with Shiela as she keeps him on task. Richard’s intense sense of self-hatred has been a big part of his character arc, as he can’t move past the tragic mistake he made as an agent. Equally intense is Wynn’s showdown with the sadistic Sheldon, the goonish second-in-command he had Richard “deal with” last issue. Sheldon knows when he’s beaten, but his dialogue as he wishes the worst for Wynn is right out of a prestige drama. Like I said, little to no violence this issue, only the aftermath, but the showdown between Richard and Jennifer that ends this issue packs a bigger punch than any beating or shooting could. The conspiracy weaving its way through this series continues to wind tighter and tighter around its characters’ neck, and it remains one of the best titles DC is publishing.
Corrina: That beginning, with Wynn detailing the philosophy of worldwide white supremacy in a calm tone, using the same words that white supremacists are currently using all over the world, is chilling. It’s brilliant but if you are struggling in real life with racism, know that this may be tough to read, and take that into account before diving in.
We’ve talked about the emotions in this book and that means the art has conveyed everything perfectly, with sadness and despair practically bleeding on the page. This book has always reminded me of Sleeper, and this art reminds me of Sean Phillips best work as well. Shadows and light. Night and dark. Black and white.
Richard has been torn between two worlds and now each world knows the truth of the other. Jennifer offers…belonging? Shiela can only offer her own support because the whole system is against them both. That’s a tough truth but one Richard knows leaves him with few options on that end. He doesn’t believe Wynn, he’s against everything that’s outlined, but he is also tired of fighting. Maybe that’s a symbol for how many black men are just so damned tired. It’s also classic noir, in which our protagonist loses all hope and wonders maybe if the villains are right.
And, like classic noir, I don’t believe this ends well. For anyone. Except maybe Wynn.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.