Monday, January 20, 2014

Review - Hactivist #1


"Steam-powered defense flytrap. It's stubborn. Reroute it to the spaghetti, keep it in the loop."

In an information sharing world, information is king. It can cripple governments and inspire uprisings. It's a new world and a new way to revolt, leveling the playing field and giving everyone a chance to be king. How that power is used is a subject of debate, one that's broached in Hactivist #1 from Archaia Black Label. The series is created by Alyssa Milano, with the first issue written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, illustrated by Marcus To, colored by Ian Herring and lettered by Deron Bennett.

The main players in the series are Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft, both of whom are very capable when it comes to computers and bending them to their wills. Their co-founders of YourLife, billed as "the world's premiere decentralized social network." In their spare time, the duo masquerade as SVE_URS3LF, black-hat hackers who are inspired to fight the power and throw their talents where necessary. Their paths cross with Sirine, an activist on the ground in Tunis who could use some of their intelligence to better her cause.

Milano's creation is very relevant with the times, as it captures the zeitgeist at the moment of NSA, social networks and social media inspired uprisings. The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements are the most pertinent inspirations, as they capitalized on the ability of social media to galvanize likeminded individuals to help in any way they can. Lanzing and Kelly craft a pretty tightly-woven script that spends most of the time with Hiccox and Graft, somewhat at the expense of Sirine. It's likely that as the series progresses that both Sirine and Hiccox/Graft will share top-billing, but the first issue really wants to reader to know the world the characters are going to be playing in. The ending is a little surprising and walks the line between fair and foul so to speak when it comes to hacking, but it will likely be twisted again down the line.

To's art is very well done. Characters demonstrate an appropriate kinetic energy when necessary, defined by clean lines that boast an attention to physical detail. The characters also stand out, almost jumping off the page in front of the backgrounds and settings. Panel layouts are staggered and keep the pages looking fresh, with To eschewing the standard rectangles. Herring's colors accent the illustrations well, mostly relying on a darker color palette for the bulk of the YourLife parts and a redder, fiery palette for conveying the bombastic atmosphere that is Tunis.

The dichotomy between Ed and Nate is interesting and makes the issue read with more tension and excitement. There are shades of Strange Attractors in Ed's approach to finding patterns in life, while Nate is definitely more of the whatever happens, F-bomb variety. Their interactions are buoyed by their similar views of information and its ability to help the world when necessary. They're clearly the two big players of the series, but there will also be others like Sirine who need their help and carry out their objectives on the ground. In an age where "cyber" is a new buzzword, Hactivist #1 promises to touch on some rather volatile issues currently threatening to burn the information world down.

Hactivist #1 is in stores January 22 with interiors below.






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