American Carnage #1
A new, thrilling crime saga from the writer of WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY and the artist of The Old Guard! Disgraced FBI agent Richard Wright is offered a chance for redemption when his old mentor sends him undercover to infiltrate a white supremacist group believed to be responsible for the death of a fellow agent.
American Carnage is a story that feels like it needed to be told, even when it plunges into the worst that humanity may have to offer. We begin with a brief introduction that makes no attempt to hide the lines drawn in the sand on either side. The FBI in Los Angeles have recently been digging into a supremacist group, but their digging resulted in some dangerous consequences. With a dead agent on their hands, Agent Curry is responsible now more than ever, but her failure has limited her available options.
The story sets up what seems like yet another FBI story chasing after a group of terrible people, but it quickly delves into human complexities not often shown in media. Agent Curry is both remorseful of her actions yet still vehemently determined to stop this violent supremacist group. After the suicide bombing to protect their own, she knows the dangers involved. This is where a white-passing former FBI member is thrown into the fray, changing the dynamic entirely. Writer Bryan Hill uses this as more than just as simple plot twist though. Instead, he manages to explore the reality that our own ability to create change in the world is often not simply dependent on our social status (as many believe), but rather our willingness to cooperate.
One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the relevance to our own society. In a story predicated on the perceptions of ethnicity, even the most absurd characters seem torn from the pages of news articles and history books. From the title of the series itself to the Philanthropist Wynn Allen Morgan, we see a representation of a very particular aspect of American culture. In Trump’s inaugural address as POTUS, he claimed “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now”. Just as Wynn Allen Morgan declares in front of a church congregation, “We don’t have to hate one another”, we see the words of a man directly contradict his own actions. It is in these words that we find the true villain of the story, one made out of deception and contempt, ready to impose its will on society.
The artistic direction from Leandro Fernandez, Dean White and Pat Brosseau lends itself to the espionage atmosphere surrounding the issue. The use of black creates an ominous mystery that hangs over each panel, and the colors that are prominent help to create distinction at just the right moments. Some of the pages even feel reminiscent of Mike Mignola’s work, where shadows are used to emphasize mood in specific areas. Overall, it’s a simply beautiful issue that uses powerful and sometimes subtle imagery to push the narrative forward.
American Carnage is a story about our own roots, how we interact within a world of magnified emotional responses and how we strive to be something better in the face of adversity. With powerful artwork and a story that is relentless in portraying humanity as it is, rather than how it should be, issue #1 is the start to a memorable story that not only needs to be told…but needs to be understood.
American Carnage is a powerful display of human complexities struggling for societal influence. Inspired by real-world relevance and a beautiful artistic direction, the first issue proves to be a strong start to a series that couldn’t be released at a more opportune moment.
American Carnage #1: Not One of Mine
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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