American Carnage #7 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Leandro Fernandez, Artist; Dean White, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: The Tension Is Killing Me
Ray: As American Carnage enters its final act, with the series wrapping with #9 in July, the tension continues to escalate. Last issue saw Richard exposed by the series’ most enigmatic character – Wynn Morgan’s ruthless daughter Jennifer. She and Richard have had a complex love-hate dynamic over the series, and now she holds his life in her hands.
Rather than expose him, she decides to use Richard, and as American Carnage #7 kicks off, she gives him his first assignment. A small-time white supremacist ally of Morgan’s has gotten himself into trouble after stealing from the Aryan Nations. Jennifer is close to him, and she wants Richard to get him to safety before the gang kills him. This puts Richard in the uncomfortable position of having to ask a favor to keep his cover with the FBI, something his handler Sheila is not happy with. Richard’s juggling act gets trickier with every issue as the conclusion gets closer.
This is a slower-paced issue than recent ones, with less violence outside of flashbacks. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in tension, though, as Hill can pull tension out of standard conversations. A good example is Sheila’s meeting with a visiting Chicago agent who wants to get involved in the Morgan case. While he says all the right things, she instantly doesn’t trust him and he’s oily enough that it’s not hard to see why. Richard makes his move to get the goon out of town and learns a little more about Jennifer in the process, but his target is missing before he gets there. That makes him turn to one figure I certainly didn’t see coming on the last page. With two issues to go, American Carnage has yet to stop surprising me – it’s a brilliantly tense neo-noir that has its finger on the pulse of racial issues without simplifying its narrative into cartoonish evil. Its Nazis are human, and that’s what makes them such great villains.
Corrina: It’s impossible to tell at this point if Jennifer believes all the racist Nazi-propaganda that her father does, whether she’s simply doing things to please him out of twisted love, or whether, deep-down, she feels trapped.
It’s likely all three and that’s a great example of the complexity of the characterization in this series. I kinda want all the Nazis to die (it is fiction, after all) but the story humanizes them, in words and art. Hill never lets them become monsters and instead simply shows that evil co-exists inside humanity, rather than is separate from them.
At this point, it’s also impossible to know what Richard views as doing the right thing. He certainly doesn’t trust Jennifer, or the FBI, or even Sheila, who he knows has her own agenda. That’s left him in the wilderness, literally on the outside looking in, as you can see from the art above.
I think the story has been possibly stretched a couple of issues too far, as the tension circles back to similar circumstances, but that’s a minor complaint in this compelling series.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.