Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft are young,
brilliant, and the co-founders of YourLife, a social networking company that
has changed the way the world stays connected. In secret, these best friends
are also “sve_Urs3lf,” the largest, white-hat hacking group on the
planet, exposing information and sparking revolutions across the globe.
Hacktivist has an interesting setup and poses a great question. What if people had the power to change the world, in a way only master hackers can in films, yet were operating in the real world?
When you think of world events in the past few years and how the internet is slowly reshaping entire countries and cultures under its idea of a place free of control and oppression, I can see why this idea would stick and make its way into a comic.
Which is the first hurdle Hacktivist trips over on. Because the reality, Havktavist suggests, is that our saviours are white billionaires, no matter how messed up they are. Be it the autistic nature of one of the characters (or at least, heavily implied autism) to the naivete of the other, Hacktivist shows a world where all the biovating that Silicon Valley heads come out with is a reality. But that
it looks like said world would crash down around the weight of their own self importance.
You may have noticed I’ve been bit negative. That’s because I have a lot of issues with Hacktivist. For one the opener. It starts dynamically enough with an overthrow of an oppressive regime thanks to the power of social networking. It’s a fresh way of tackling a comic and it could have make a powerful statement about the power of working together in a way that’s not really been attempted in human history before. That quickly gives way to scenes where it’s basically two white dudes saving the day for poor foreigners (who appear to be every bit as computer literate as our main characters I might add) who can’t.
Now perhaps this chain of events would be more acceptable in a world where we didn’t have real life parallels to compare this to. But we do. And it was ‘those poor foreigners’ who did it, by using technology to organise and stay one step ahead of those who opposed them, whilst the western world stood back and watched. In comparison, Hacktivist comes across as the author (and by extension the Western world) wished it had happened.
Next, there’s the use of technology as magic and situational autism as magic. Now admittedly with Ed it was implied that something else is going on and that appearances were deceptive. It also establishes that the two main characters became who they are off the back of Ed’s smarts and
Nate’s ability to then market whatever ideas he comes up with. That certainly bears some relation to how many large tech companies became successful.
Even if the two friends are pretty cavalier about their actions (which lead to them being noticed by government organisations) and seem to be barely getting on, there’s still the implication that the reader is meant to accept all that happens in the issue and think two rather unlikable characters are the best thing since sliced bread because ‘White People+Technology=Amazing’.
It left a bitter taste in my mouth and one I’ve not shaken a week later.
Now as Issue 1 ends we see the wheels start to come off and perhaps this is the miniseries point, that people like this would burn out or be corrupted were they a part of the ‘real world’. I shall certainly be picking up issue 2 to see where things are going, as I want to see if that is the creative teams entire point. If in the long term it’s a massive subversion of everything presented in issue 1, I’ll happily say I should have been more patient.
But off the strength of this first issue, I can’t say I would recommend this. It’s a noble idea of the internet being a tool to liberate us, hijacked by writers who feel the need to dress up a very interesting topic in a cape and cowl.
You can buy Hacktivist #1 from Comixology
, or all good comic book stores.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.