The Divided States of Hysteria #2
Publisher: Image Comics © 2017
Writer & Artist: Howard Chaykin
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Variant Cover Colorist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Editor: Thomas K.
Production: Carey Hall
Issue #2 is finally upon us and it is a bit of tough read. We follow Frank Villa throughout his life and his job is in danger due to recent events involving things going boom. Meanwhile, we follow some newly incarcerated convicts in a private prison complex. Then enter some narration and sort of political esoteric commentary here and there and you got the second issue. Chaykin is starting to come on too hard. There is no one redeemable, likeable or relatable so far in this series. Everyone is written as the sort of typical white, nationalistic, right-wing corporate jerk-wad he makes them to be. It could be he does not want you like them but all and any other supporting characters have their own flaws that relate to these problems or are just not very developed. Explicit language is quite over-used, with vulgarities coming every second it would make the show Deadwood blush. Personally, I do not mind swearing nor do I support censorship but Chaykin needs to learn something about subtlety. Everyone comes off like a redneck or something.
Chaykin’s art is provocative. His first page is beautiful with this destroyed, flattened city that looks like the apocalypse, but the drone in the sky like a shining jewel. Artistically – great, gritty and real, no sexiness at all. Design overall is rather cumbersome. Again, our letterer does a poor job of differentiating between who is speaking, especially when it comes to phone calls. Who is talking right now on the phone? Sometimes you will not know until a page later that the conversation was over the phone. His touch to the prison with obscenities blasted all over the pages is a nice touch to envelope you into that atmosphere. After the first pages this touch grew old and cumbersome. Chaykin manages to create an extremely wordy and sometimes difficult comic to follow with narration to dialogue and back and forth on the page. There are times the comic itself is just too wordy. He has a lot to say and that is fine, but no page or panel is given breath to tell the story on a purely visual basis, which I think he would be good at it. It would be better I feel if Chaykin left the scripting to somebody else to be honest. However, it could be difficult given Chaykin’s own political views.
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