Writer: Matteo Pizzolo
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colorist: Tyler Boss
Publisher: Black Mask Comics
Two years after re-election, Donald Trump sends the National Guard to California to put down a resistance group that has seceded from the Union. A figure of the resistance named Zora hides in one of the occupied cities, while a courier named Jamil plays both sides of the fight for his own survival.
The opening of Calexit is eerily familiar, as Trump talks about protecting California from the illegals and the dangerous resistance, and two radio news hosts discuss what this could mean, before moving onto how certain retailers are boycotting Ivanka Trump’s line of lingerie. Absurdity and genuine darkness are mixed together in a way that realistically reflects modern events.
Things aren’t kept in this dystopic view for too long, however, before Nora McNulty, a key member of the resistance, arrives at her parents’ home asking for refuge, only to be tracked by a threatening man who evidently has a reputation for hunting down illegal immigrants and members of the resistance. The stakes become personal as he kills Zora’s parents, and we cut to the title.
Pizzolo manages to balance compelling, natural dialogue that flows between personal character moments and abstract thematic discussions. The world he builds and the characters inhabiting it are a natural extension of the current political landscape. Light sci-fi elements keep a level of distance that is underplayed to great effect.
Most of the comic follows Jamil, a courier who delivers anything for anyone so long as it isn’t weapons. This leads Jamil into getting involved in the middle of a confrontation between Zora and the hunter pursuing her.
The characters are generally well crafted, and Pizzolo does excellently at creating a dystopian future based on current politics, but the real stand-out moment happens near the end of the comics, and I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it here. Suffice to say, it was the moment that convinced me that this was the start of a truly great series.
The art by Amancay Nahuelpan and Tyler Boss is nothing short of excellent. The layouts are inventive and keep the pace of movement flowing. Little details in the character design and views of the city convey world building and character development. Action flows and is paced well, and the colors are alternately vibrant and lively and dark and grim as needed.
Calexit is a timely, important story. Balancing striking political commentary, catharsis, action, world building, and character; all with an excellent art style. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this immediately gripping story.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.