by Matteo Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan and Tyler Boss
Black Mask Studios
“Anyone who inspires that much loyalty cannot be allowed to roam free.” That’s Father Rossie. He’s the homicidal front-line functionary loyal to the US Federal Government who’s been deputised to lead the National Guard in a hunt for militant ‘Calexit’ secessionists active in the currently occupied territory of the State of California — and to liquidate ’em all without ruth. He’s right, though. Charismatic militia leaders are bad for big business — even more so when they’re sharp-witted women who’re easy on the eye. And that’s about as agreeable as I’m going to be with a xenophobic cur who wears a red and black turtleneck sweater and dons Lennon-esque bifocals without the slightest indication of being conscious that his sartorial misjudgement alone qualifies him as a thoroughgoing fuckhead.
The sixth largest economy on the planet’s fault lines have ruptured — and I’m not talking about San Andreas. An Executive Order issued by a Trump-like POTUS “calling for the immediate deportation of immigrant civilians not recognised as US citizens” hasn’t exactly been met with resounding and orderly compliance by the sum of the Golden State’s demos. In historical terms, it’s a solid block of blue on the electoral map. But with the Oval Office’s dictum now having divided this part of the republic into conservative rural regions that war with liberal-progressive urban centres, there’s never been a better reason for a Californian separatist to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights, and to brandish a gun in the general direction of Washington DC.
And even though Pizzolo’s story begins in medias res, we’re already sufficiently acquainted with the preamble. The world’s fucked. Basically. And to be more specific for those who’d think of me as simple, you needn’t do much more than type “top ten reasons we’re a lot closer to the fucking end than we hitherto thought” into Google’s search bar to see that the recrudescence of neo-fascist mass movements — for one — typically set the tempo as the larger body politic is swept up in the march toward Fuck Knows Where during moments of widespread crisis. Brace yourselves for something like Alfonso Cuarón’s look at the world to come in Children Of Men. Just Children Of Men. I seriously cannot think of another movie to cleverly cross it with that would make what to expect over the coming decade any more accurate than what that film already depicts. This comic’s cut from the same cloth.
Pizzolo’s Calexit looks set to join a fine pedigree that includes Brian Wood’s highly acclaimed Second American Civil War saga D.M.Z.; and the recent Briggs Land and Rebels — stories that explore a quintessentially North American experience of political disunity, self-determination, conceptions of sovereignty, and wars of independence. It’s neither a manifesto, nor reportage for that matter; and in spite of an appendix consisting of interviews with activists and commentators, it shouldn’t pretend to be anything other than an anti-Trump diatribe in miniature, either. At its most vulnerable point, it’s leftist agitprop for novices, marred by an ahistorical perspective that reads with all the moral nuance of a superhero funny book — and hence, it’s unlikely to work for students familiar with the United States of America’s complex socio-political and cultural evolution.
Notwithstanding such criticism, anything that takes aim at the rise of Trumpism and its ideological correlatives, the constitutional holocaust it represents, and the horde of unpersons that salute party policies steeped in extremism, is better than remaining silent and hoping that the behemothic sack of smouldering dog shit personified by Trump goes away all by itself sooner rather than later. As Pizzolo plots this tale’s course through the cues of the daily media, keep your ear attuned to The Donald’s ongoing, relentless attacks on the fourth estate. He fucking hates journalists. They’re “scum — absolute scum”. And on top of the State Department’s secret subpoenas and the White House’s intent to delimit libel laws so as to make it easier to sue media organisations, the invective Trump employs to delegitimise the role of the press in a free and open democracy should be enough to trigger the smoke alarm in the mind of anybody who’s survived the romanticism of nihilism and still believes in the civic duty of holding our so-called elected representatives to public account. This is pretty much how authoritarian regimes begin. Remove the intelligentsia first. I dare you to scoff.
Oh — and if I could offer some good, sound advice to live by as a consolation, believe me — I would. Alas, the only thing that seems to come to mind at this point in history is, “Be a fucking threat.”