Monday, June 12, 2017

Review - The Divided States of Hysteria #1 (@ImageComics)


"...finally found their exceptionalism soured..."

It's no surprise that the 2016 US Presidential election was one fraught with surprise and emotion, both of which permeates down to the American society at large. Different people have different takes on the aftermath and one of the more unfiltered ones is that in The Divided States of Hysteria #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, colored by Jesus Aburtov and lettered by Ken Bruzenak.

An America sundered. An America enraged. An America terrified. An America shattered by greed and racism, violence and fear, nihilism and tragedy...and that's when everything really goes to hell.

Credit to Chaykin where credit is due--The Divided States of Hysteria #1 pulls absolutely no punches and is brazenly blunt. Chaykin infuses the issue with an abundance of raw emotion, all of which comes together to serve as a scathing critique of American society. The issue is set-up in a way that introduces the players through their exceedingly vile actions, yet each of these individuals represent America in some way. There's not even a remote attempt by Chaykin to play it safe in the book; instead, he goes all-in on holding a mirror to the America that many people refuse to acknowledge exists. And that's why Chaykin writes an issue that's so solid, because it's more rooted in reality than a lot of readers would like to admit.

Chaykin's artwork in The Divided States of Hysteria #1 is just as coarse as the tone he takes in the writing to get across his point. There are numerous graphic scenes throughout the issue covering everything sex to murder to just about everything in between. Chaykin knows that a literal message only has so much impact and his artwork reinforces that idea by being very blunt in its assessment of American society. His style is still very recognizable in terms of how characters are illustrated with something of an exaggeration of body types. Somewhat surprisingly, Aburtov's colors are actually bright and vivid, giving the book some sense of optimism (but also make the blood from assassinations stand out more too).

Saying that The Divided States of Hysteria #1 is raw and unfiltered is an understatement. None of the characters in the issue are inherently good people and their attitudes will drive the remainder of the series. Chaykin's script is unfiltered and brazen in its message, unapologetic as one person's viewpoint of modern-day America. Chaykin's artwork is familiar and effective in underscoring his message. The Divided States of Hysteria #1 doesn't pull any punches in regards to its message and is a very brash read.

The Divided States of Hysteria #1 is available now.

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