Writers: Lun Zhang, Adrien Gombeaud
Cover Artist: Ameziane
Editor: Justin Eisinger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
When discussing the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989, it is difficult not to think of the iconic “Tank Man.” It’s a powerful piece of imagery that, to many outsiders, encapsulates the tragic events that took place in the capital of one of the largest superpowers in the world. But in an event that is continually censored by its own government, even the iconic “Tank Man” carries an air of misconception. Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes seeks to tell the untainted story of the Tiananmen Square Massacre through the firsthand experiences of a sociology professor, Lun Zhang. Alongside French journalist Adrien Gombeaud and artist Ameziane, Zhang reveals to an outside audience the nuances of one of the most critical events in the shaping of modern China.
As an organizer of the Tiananmen protests, Zhang provides compelling insight into the mentality of the young student protesters and their specific demands. He also dives deeper than the June 4th massacre, so readers may find themselves surprised at not only the intricacies leading up to the event but also the sheer scope of it as well. It’s a refreshing account of an event in which the violence tends to overshadow everything else. That is not to say that the actual massacre isn’t important–it is, and Zhang gives it the necessary space it deserves–but if an event must be remembered, then its details should also be preserved. Helping in this task is Ameziane’s muddied and photo-realistic art which intimately fits alongside Zhang’s retelling of the events. It often feels as if we are going through Zhang’s memories, evoking the camaraderie of not only the students, but of China as a whole.
The lives of specific students are briefly explored, but there isn’t much space to give it the emotional resonance it requires. Instead, it’s the collective force that gives the protests an emotional feeling of power and voice which is encapsulated in an astonishing splash page by Ameziane. Throughout the story, Zhang recounts his experience solemnly, yet, despite the distressing title, he does not dwell on the tragedy. The hope of a generation may have been shattered in Tiananmen, but Zhang makes it clear that the bravery of China’s youth has flowered elsewhere. Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes is a necessary story that helps to keep alive the spirit of a generation that dared to speak out.