Nightly News #1
“Chapter One: I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore”
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Jonathan Hickman
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$3.35 CAN
I’m a journalist by trade, and I don’t mean my comics criticism writing. I cover the court/crime beat for a daily newspaper, one that’s owned by a corporation that owns every English-language newspaper in the province. People often ask me about my work and how that corporate, regional monopoly affects it. I tell them it doesn’t. But I’m not naive. Though it hasn’t occurred in my experience, it’s a global reality now that the media is sadly subject and vulnerable to manipulation by political and business interests. Nightly News is about lashing back against that corrupted information network. Creator Jonathan Hickman — whose work on this new title holds him out as the comic industry’s new Brian Wood — makes a bold statement by telling a story of homegrown terrorists fighting against the co-opted conscience of democracy.
In America, there are few ideals that are more precious or more important than the freedom of the press. But in a world in which six corporations control the just about everything the Western world sees and hears, that ideal has been compromised by rich men with ambitious agendas. They’ve done so because they know the great power that the media have. When wielded carelessly, that power can destroy lives, and a small group of men who were unjustly harmed by that power follow the instructions of a mysterious and charismatic leader to fight back. Blood flows, but the cameras never stop rolling.
Hickman’s use of photo reference, photostat, clip art, graphic design and silhouette all make it easy for discerning comics readers to compare his work to that of Brian (DMZ) Wood. His dark figures put me in mind of the line art of such artists as Jae (Inhumans) Lee and Jason (The Escapists) Alexander. There’s a VH1 vibe to his sense of design here that really sets the book apart from most other fare in the industry today. It also makes for a challenging read at times. He sometimes employs a font that’s rather small, but the nature of the subject matter calls for a slow, meticulous study. Hickman’s layouts don’t always follow the typical left-to-right, top-to-bottom flow of comics, but again, it slows the reader down. The unconventional storytelling is intriguing and ultimately rewarding.
Both sniper scopes and the writer’s ire are aimed chiefly at broadcast news. I’m in print, and I prefer it because it allows for more detail and greater impartiality. Broadcast is about the visual, about creating drama and about immediacy in reporting, regardless of accuracy. Just watch a 24-hour news network for proof. Supposition and editorializing are commonplace in broadcast. I share some of John Guyton’s frustration. I share his critical viewpoint. Guyton and the Voice are right in many of their views, and they serve as the means by which Hickman connects with his audience.
Of course, Guyton and the Voice are not heroes. The Voice’s methods and the way his group is organized and operates are all highly reminiscent of a cult. It makes for an interesting conflict in the reader. One can admire and relate to their anger over the corruption of the fourth estate, but their zealotry and extremism are disturbing.
Hickman’s artwork isn’t the only thing that will earn him favorable comparisons to Brian Wood and his cutting-edge contributions to the medium. The political and social nature of his storytelling is part of it as well, but so is his in-your-face approach. Just as Wood has done with Channel Zero and DMZ, Hickman has climbed to the top of a building to scream through a megaphone, shouting truth, denouncing apathy and calling for action. 9/10
Nightly News #1 is slated for release Nov. 1.