“Are you an activist? What are your city plans for? Are you a accident? Are you just in the way?“- Kendrick Lamar, “Black Panther”
Matteo Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan, and Tyler Boss take a leaf out of the old Tarantino playbook going for some wheeling and dealing and bullshit in Calexit #3 before blowing it all to hell and ending the first “act” of the series on a powerful note. In Calexit, the citizens of the cities of California have resisted President Trump’s orders to deport all immigrants, and they are pitted in conflict with the more conservative citizens of the rural and suburban areas of California. They are helped by a bunch of progressive cities in the West Coast, like Vancouver and Tijuana, and opposed by the Bunkerville Militia, a white supremacist group that appears a little bit in this issue, especially their new leader Crowbar.
In just three issues, Pizzolo and Nahuelpan have engaged in a lot of worldbuilding, but have wisely focused on the very different characters of Zora and Jamil and explored the conflict between activism and apathy in a high octane manner. Of course, Jamil doesn’t agree with a fascist government, but he sees the regime’s Greenshirts as willing customers of his drugs, including anti-depressants, because Trump’s regime is ableist is fuck. He’ll look the other way as long as they do, which is what got him delivering Zora’s dad’s head in Calexit #1.
With his silver tongue and trusty drone at his side, Jamil tries to talk down the Greenshirts for most of the issue with a smile on his face and a gift for understatement. For a second, he even has some new customers. Nahuelpan’s poses for Jamil are agile and versatile just like the confidence man/drug dealer while Zora is stock-still in her Wonder Woman costume continuing the charade that she is Jamil’s girlfriend of the day. With the exception of the title page and a full page spread of Jamil’s drone telling the story of a dead Greenshirt, Nahuelpan uses a grid to show the give and take of him trying getting himself out of this crazy situation. He uses more shadows and flowing lines through the pretty much, never ending sex scene between Crowbar and his “secretaries of war” that matches up nicely with Boss’ sleazy color palette. Nahuelpan counteracts the eroticism of a menage a trois with the pretty obvious Nazi tattoos all over Crowbar and his partners’ bodies. Also, a white woman with dreadlocks equals yuck.
However, Calexit really kicks into another gear in the last third of the book. Up to this point, Jamil, and with the exception of her epic rampage in Calexit #1, Zora are content to play it safe within the system to get to their safe haven. But then shit gets real, and Amancay Nahuelpan and Tyler Boss really dial up their art game with some seriously intense reds and some loud yellows for when Crowbar finally gets off his ass and remembers that he has a deadline to take out Zora, or his superior kills him. Nahuelpan channels the energy of his work on Clandestino into a bullet straight into the metaphorical head of the patriarchy. It’s a memorable moment, and Matteo Pizzolo pays off all the roundabout conversations in the first two-thirds of the comic. Also, Jamil kind of develops as a character, but he’s far from perfect, and Zora tells him off for being content to sell drugs to fascists and sleep with PTSD-stricken sex workers in a variation of the “ride out into the sunset” moment.
Calexit #3 definitely has a “hell yeah” ending, but it also brings up a lot of questions that aren’t “Is Crowbar going to catch Zora?” because you know that guy is definitely mini-boss material. There’s the incisive questions that Jamil asks Zora as he wanders around in shock looking at the fire and blood around them if Zora wants to create real change or just has a death wish that involves her getting into risky fights with the foot soldiers of a fascist regime. Is she a rogue agent, or can she be connected to an actual resistance movement when she keeps getting her allies killed? She’s definitely a badass, and there seem to be some Mad Max Fury Road-esque chase scenes in her future, but Pizzolo and Nahuelpan aren’t afraid to look at the psychological underpinnings of her violent actions and how they affect those around her.
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