Yeah, I get it. We live in a bubble. Despite feeling like I don’t need to hear it anymore, I nonetheless am amused and bewildered when I come across the kneejerk closed-minded right-wing reactions to even the vaguest of protestations. Case in point: the first three Amazon reviews for the digital edition of CALEXIT, the latest subversive gem from Black Mask Comics, courtesy of Matteo Pizzolo and Amancay Nahuelpan. If they had called this book about organized resistance to an oppressive, fascist America something like, I don’t know, Secret Empire, maybe some folks would have bothered reading it before ranting. Instead, bozos like DonkeyKong777 and Lochstar chime in with insightful bon mots like “progressive bull corn” and “liberal wet dream.” This wasn’t thrown together as reactionary propaganda; the truth is, Pizzolo and Nahuelpan started working on CALEXIT long before reality started eerily mirroring the fictional dystopia they were crafting for in the book.
These guys also know the truth about California. Because they, like us, actually live here. And it’s far less of a bubble than most of the world realizes. So when the book’s creators stopped to think about what might actually happen if the majority of Californians rebelled against an authoritarian regime, they realized that the state itself would likely become dangerously divided. As Pizzolo states in his afterword, “from my point of view, any secession would likely lead to a civil war within California before the military could even get their boots on… Political passion/rage is as bipartisan in California as it is in the rest of the country.”
The result of their efforts, already on display in this first issue, is not only a carefully planned and plotted what-if scenario (think Brian K. Vaughan’s Y the Last Man or Brian Wood’s DMZ), but a helluva good action yarn. California is a battleground of occupied cities and revolutionary outposts. And in Los Angeles, Jamil, a courier/smuggler with a robotic avian personal assistant, is about to cross paths with Zora, an insurgency organizer who’s being hunted for, among other things, her immigration status.
Everything about this book is working for me: well-paced dialogue, dynamic panel movement, and elegant visuals, both in linework and color. The plot, as I’ve said, is well-conceived and intriguing. The main villain, an evil grinning Nazi type with a talent for extreme violence, may be a bit exaggerated, but, all part of the fun, yeah? I mean… this is just a work of fiction. Right..?