Days of Hate #2
Writer: Alěs Kot
Artist: Danijel Žeželj
Colorist: Jeordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditiya Bidikar
Designer: Tom Muller
Review by Jim Allegro
Days of Hate #2 continues to a walk a delicate line between dystopian commentary and political thriller. Ales Kot’s new Image book seeks to unsettle as it entertains, portraying a near-future America engulfed by a race war. Kot understands that an ascendant alt-right police state that makes war on immigrants is heavy-handed stuff, and that this bleak account of concentration camps and left wing terrorists works best wrapped in an entertaining and gripping story. To that end, the first issue balanced the pessimistic content with elements of dark humor, an unfolding terrorist plot, and a story of failed love and betrayal.
The second issue does not strike quite the same balance. Days of Hate #2 delves deeper into the characters, providing exposition on the government agent, Peter Freeman, who pursues domestic threats, including Amanda Parker. Freeman is a committed nativist who believes in family, but not in God, as he stalks our queer anti-hero, Parker, and her unnamed compatriot. We learn more about the relationship between the two freedom fighters as they cross America spreading havoc and resistance. And, we catch a glimpse of the demons that haunt Huian Xing, whose quest for revenge against Parker keeps her awake at night.
These details extend Kot’s quest to tell a story just realistic enough to upset us. But the weighty subject matter is starting to overpower the absorbing narrative elements that make such politically-charged content fun to read. The narrative does not move very far in Days of Hate #2, the humor is fading, and the unwinding of the characters dampens a bit of the suspense. An easy joke about the effects of alcohol falls flat as Kot sets it against the fear and suffering of our unnamed Muslim protagonist and his family. Further, Freeman’s dark sense of humor gives way to the zeal with which he seeks to purify his country.
The powerful artwork furthers the unsettling nature of the comic. Everything is desolate and a little out of focus in Danijel Zezelj’s and Jeordie Bellaire’s America. Shadows seem to stalk every panel, with jutting lines and oblique angles that obscure the characters and their emotions. The effect is subtle, and definitely deliberate. The most interesting aspect of the art is Bellaire’s tinkering with the skin color of the characters, making us check twice to identify and separate the various races of characters.
Days of Hate #2 asked me to revisit the question: what exactly is a comic book supposed to do? Political commentary, even the most unsubtle of kinds, is certainly an acceptable answer. Comic books have always been political in character, but, without some form of entertaining diversion, whether fantastic elements, twists to keep us guessing, or amusing distractions, the politics quickly turn polemical. Kot’s comic has yet to arrive at that place, but issue #2 suggests that it might be headed in that direction.
VERDICT: Meh. . .
If politically-charged content is not your thing, then stay out of Days of Hate. If you don’t mind heavy content, then STAY in the run, at least for the moment. Kot has a difficult task he may yet pull off.