There are a couple of ironies, that I will get to later, that occurred to me whilst looking over this book. Instead, lets take a quick look at the impact that the real world can have on comics and vice verse. Over the last week there has been more than a little bit of commentary regarding certain books. Remember however, that comics are meant to be disposable; disposable as in a quick read, a quick shot of distraction and disposable as you spend your disposable income on them. Of course nowadays, there is the contradictions of the collector market and the fact that books are quite expensive!
Into this world, Black Mask Studios have published a book that takes on the idea of a lack of “Californian Love”, to paraphrase a certain rapper; as California looks to secede from the rest of the U.S.. Writer Matteo Pizzolo himself alludes to how the books main idea has been a little “too much on the button” and the challenges of keeping the book on track against the flow of real life events that threaten to seep into the make-up of the story. Instead, Pizzolo leads the reader through the introductions of the various heroes, villains and those in between as they try to either fight the good fight, tow the governmental line or simply survive. Along the way, we get some subtle and not so subtle digs at quite a few people including some clever pops at Marvel (being a DC fan, I am ok with that). Between the various points of view in play, there is a story in there, one that propels the reader through the differences in the characters world view.
Over the last year, Amancay Nahuelpan has been putting out some fantastic art and has quickly moved onto my favourite creator list, from Young Terrorists and Clandestino. Calxit is a different sort of book for Nahuelpan. Previously, Nahuelpan has been able to mix up the more passive elements of storytelling with either surreal images or action pages. In Calexit, the art is a little less obvious. This may have to do with the impressive word count that Pizzolo has generated. It is then to Nahuelpan’s credit that the storytelling of his art doesn’t suffer. Indeed by taking a slower pace, allows the reader to form their own thoughts on the characters, their lives and of course the nature of California leaving the Union, as it were. Tyler Boss supplies the colors for the book and I have say, does an impressive job throughout. The book has an almost desolate feel to it, yet there is also the contradiction of the colors used for the ‘burbs. One quick note, was the use of Trump on a red background a sleight of hand nod to the current controversy around Russia’s involvement with the U.S. election?
Comics are meant to be entertaining. The fact that top notch creators such as Matteo Pizzolo and Amancay Nahuelpan, along with Briggs Land creators Brian Wood and Mack Chater, can weave the political fallout of secession and present a different version of the United States into engaging books that can challenge a readers perception, is one of the great flexibilities of comic books. Not everything has to revolve around the cape and cowl crowd.
Oh, and regarding the ironies, I am a UK citizen whose country has recently triggered the means to leave the European Union, is writing this review on the 4th of July, a celebration for many of the largest secession in history. Go figure.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
Written by: Matteo Pizzolo
Art: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colors by: Tyler Boss
Published by: Black Mask Studios