Review: Calexit #1
Calexit #1 is a powerful, visceral, sometimes funny and sometimes hauntingly realistic piece of speculative fiction from the badass creative team of Matteo Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan, and Tyler Boss. The premise is that California has seceded from the United States when Donald Trump has signed a law to deport all immigrants, but there ended up being a civil war between the liberal urban areas and the conservative rural areas. (I used to live in northern L.A. County whose current representative is a Republican taking NRA money.) Throw in Trump himself visiting and being a dictator on the state and cutting off electricity and water in an area that is prone to drought, and it’s a real powder keg. The combination of gut punching action as only the artist of the madcap Clandestino and Young Terrorists can pull off and real life political themes makes Calexit an entertaining and thought provoking read. If you’re a Trump supporter, the first page will have you tweeting about “snowflakes” from a bot account within 5 seconds.
Instead of staid, boring exposition, Pizzolo and Nahuelpan use humor, current events, pop culture, and plain human connection to build the world of Calexit. Jamil is a courier/smuggler/Han Solo type, who is set up to be the series co-protagonist and also sells anti-depressants to National Guard members because even their healthcare sucks in a universe where AHCA seems to be a thing. His breezy observations about the soldier guarding a statue from a D.W. Griffith film, the fact that superheroes don’t punch fascists any more, and his roasting of his client Steve Bannon look-alike (Complete with neck rolls) Eddie the Chimp add color to Calexit and its ideas without weighing down the story. Not everyone is a frontline fighter during times of revolution, and Jamil is just an ordinary guy with a malfunctioning A.I. personal assistant, who wants to survive by not pissing too many people off. Of course, this all changes with his “mission” on the final page. Jamil’s jokes and kind of moral compass of never selling weapons (But humans head are okay.) make him a character that is easy to latch onto.
Calexit #1 is yet another virtuoso turn for artist Amancay Nahuelpan following his work on Young Terrorists and Clandestino. He has a Quitely-esque eye for detail in perfectly capturing an upscale neighborhood near Hollywood and the famous El Capitan Theater that he promptly destroys in a hail of unexpected gunfire. His depiction of the main bad guy as evil Steve Jobs is kind of a coup, and the glasses and turtle neck complement his long, self-serving monologues. Nahuelpan is both a craftsman and a demolition man when it comes to his art, and Tyler Boss is a worthy partner in crime with his faded out greys for both bad guys in the issue and wistful sepias for the California desert. Some of the comic is set near Hollywood, but there’s no La La Land or even Lynchian glamor to palette just another hot as balls, dry, three digit Southern California day.
Even though it’s set in a dystopia, Calexit has its triumphant moments. It’s a hopeful comic, not a defeatist one as proud as the logo of the Mulholland Resistance that seriously needs to be made into a laptop sticker or T-shirt. It is meticulously crafted in worldbuilding, background art, and color choices by Matteo Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan, and Tyler Boss and is a comic that pokes fun at summer blockbusters while having many “Viva la Resistance” kind of moments and directly opposing Trump’s cool regime and terrible treatment of anyone who isn’t a rich, Christian white man.
Story: Matteo Pizzolo Art: Amancay Nahuelpan Colors: Tyler Boss
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review