Review: Days of Hate #2

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
February 28th, 2018

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Days of Hate #2
Comics
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This week sees the release of Days of Hate #2, the continuation of the hard-hitting, near future dystopian tale from Image Comics. Our contributor, Darryll Robson, looks at the second issue to see how it is all panning out.

Set in an America where neighbor turns on neighbor and racism goes unchallenged, Days of Hate takes the reader one step forward in time, just over the horizon to a place we don’t want to believe could be real. Beating at the center of the tale is a heart fuelled by social injustice and fears generated by Media manipulation. In an era of Fake News and Post Truth, Days of Hate cuts it close to the bone to tell a story where peoples actions are twisted to fit the needs of others.

Synopsis

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America 2022: Amanda and her partner are on the run after their ‘terrorist’ attack on an Alt-Right place of meeting. Hiding out in a seedy motel, both of them have to come to terms with their actions and justify it to themselves.

Meanwhile, Peter Freeman, self-proclaimed hunter of enemies of the state, returns to his home in Washington DC to visit with his family. And Huian Xing, sister to one of those enemies, returns to her own home where she distracts herself from the gnawing urges deep inside.

Credit: Image Comics

Analysis

Set in a not too distant future dystopian America, Days of Hate issue 2 deals with the main cast's reactions to a terrorist attack. Each of them have some stake in the incident, or the outcome of it and Ales Kot has used this issue to highlight the different sides of the argument regarding the bombing by using the character’s relationship to the incident. Nothing is straightforward and this is examined throughout these pages.

Through the narrative, Kot has cast Amanda, the perpetrator, as the heroine of the story and also the terrorist. This gives the act a human, emotional quality that is difficult to dismiss. Even by making the target of the bombing clearly anti-social and potentially dangerous people, not all the victims could be considered legitimate targets. This, in turn, creates a discourse between Amanda and her partner along the lines of ‘the ends justifying the means’.

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The conversation heavy motel scenes are laid out with a lot of positional view changes to emphasise elements of the script. Close-ups of the characters while speaking suddenly become long shots of silence to allow the character and the reader to contemplate the discussion. There are no answers here so Kot and Danijel Zezelj allow the reader time to make up their own minds.  An element of backstory for one and the emphasis on a habitual ritual, the Shower Beer, humanizes both characters making it difficult to make a rash decision about their actions.

Credit: Image Comic

A news report, constantly playing in the background of this issue, removes all emotion and states just the facts of the case, facts that may or may not be true. This is in contrast to the discussion in the motel which is taking place at the same time.  Here, a comment is being made by the writer about the power of the Worlds media. Most of our information comes from the News and here it is displayed in contrast to the people in the reports, demonstrating how easy it is to disassociate people from their actions. The news outlet portrays Amanda as a callous, heartless killer which contradicts the Amanda the reader sees in the motel room.

There are several pages of silence that are beautifully rendered, with one, in particular, consisting of three panels, each focusing on the contemplative state of the cast. There are no obvious links between the panels except for the character’s moment of thoughtfulness but the panels work brilliantly on the page together. A slice of time frozen to compare and contrast.

However, there is a subtle link. The first and last panel contains a small element of white light, from the door behind the man at prayer and from the tablet of a woman at work on her desk, that draws the reader’s attention to the center panel, the one containing Amanda. The creators want the reader to focus their attention on Amanda, she is central to this narrative and central to the thoughts of the other characters. Everything about the page lead’s the reader to Amanda. Her position on the page; the fact she is in a headshot; the bright coloring of the panel in stark contrast to the other two panels. Jordie Bellaire’s coloring choices throughout enhance the narrative but here it lifts the panels up from simple storytelling information to images of sequential beauty.  If you are not sure who the central character is then this page spells it out without using a single written word just impressive, visual storytelling.

Credit: Image Comics

Every aspect of Days of Hate appears to have the same thoughtfulness which makes this a superb if sometimes challenging read. The story flows effortlessly through the page transitions, flicking back and forth between the central characters and their lives. Each section of the comic feeds off and responds to each other creating a single narrative unit. To take away any section of the comic would create a hole in the narrative which may not be obvious, but it would be there, niggling at the back of your head like a fake news story.

Elements of socially accepted racism, expressions of inner turmoil and opposing personal/professional beliefs make Days of Hate an insightful and challenging read. Kot does not make this easy for the reader and just like the real world, the simple good/evil dynamics of the superhero genre have no place here. Each character is multi-layered and the creators take time to portray the different aspects of each. An outstanding politically enthused comic that works on every level.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.com

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