It’s all gone to hell and the only thing left to do is write up the report on the autopsy and get the heck out of there. The Seeds places a critical lens over where America is today and what it sees isn’t pretty. Join Astra and Lola, as they inhabit the corpse that used to be America in this opening issue of The Seeds from Dark Horse Comics.
Writers: Ann Nocenti & David Aja
Artist: Ann Nocenti & David Aja
Colorist: David Aja
Letterer: David Aja
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Previously in The Seeds: America, and the world, has gone to hell in a handbasket. Politics is toxic. The media is toxic. The snow is acidic. There’s weaponized fallout in the air. Surveillance of the population is endemic. A neo-Luddite revolution saw the erection of the Wall – those who love technology on one side, on the other, everyone else. Add in the apocalypse and alien seed collectors and you have the first issue of The Seeds.
TWO MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT
Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville traveled across the new American nation in the 1820s and reported his findings to his compatriots in an acclaimed book that looked critically upon American society and history with the gimlet eye of an outsider. Sometimes you need that outsider’s perspective to understand where you live, who you are and where you’re going.
Now, while David Aja isn’t Alexis de Tocqueville (or French, for that matter) he is an outsider poking and prodding what America is today. It’s no surprise that The Seeds uses the tropes of political discussion today – fake news, the Wall, the surveillance state, the reaction against technology, to inform its narrative and characters. Together with collaborator Ann Nocenti, Aja has crafted a truly remarkable book that, like the very best science fiction, examines the human condition and the state of things today, through the lens of what might be tomorrow.
Multiple story threads stand poised to unravel as The Seeds #1 opens. Online journalist Astra records interviews with men, women, and children standing in the shadow of the Wall, the dividing structure that runs as much through the landscape of America as it does its mindscape. On their side live Americans unwilling to shed their technological heritage. On the other, dividing families and lovers, live the neo-Luddites, those who rose up against, as they saw it, the suffocating bonds of technology. Astra wants to tell real stories about these people, but her boss, editor Gabrielle, only wants stories that generate outrage and clicks – essentially fake news.
The other storyline features prostitute Lola, whose assignation with a gas mask wearing John forms the other half of the issue. Her side of the story involves similar figures to John collecting seeds, whose purpose is only revealed much later in the book. When it comes, it packs a wallop. It’s that revelation that binds the storylines together and begins Astra on an investigation that may very well uncover the greatest conspiracy ever.
THE ARTWORK UNDERSCORES THE WRITING
The artwork underscores the writing. Aja struck gold with his work in Hawkeye, and his artwork here is equally as distinctive and eye-catching. The black and white artwork, washed with faded green, resembles surveillance footage. Indeed, the ‘camera’ is pulled slightly back throughout The Seeds #1, giving a feeling of distance to proceedings. I can’t give enough plaudits to the layout of the panels, the design of the surroundings, and the clinical detail that has gone into all of it.
Of special note is page 16, which presents one of the most striking images I have seen in a long, long career reading comics. Against a backdrop of a stained American flag, a gas mask wearing, gun-wielding naked man sits in a chair talking back to his television. You’ll have to go very far to see a more subtly damning image of America today than that very page.
BOTTOM LINE – MY GOD, STOP READING THIS REVIEW AND BUY IT ALREADY
Times of great societal stress and change help inspire great art. Whether you embrace the current culture war in America, or just watch on in horrified fascination, work like The Seeds #1 is directly inspired and informed by what is going on in America right now. Happily, it doesn’t directly pick sides, which makes it equally damning over everyone, which gives it a greater weight than if it simply picked a side and alienated everyone else.
The Seeds #1 is social commentary, a conspiracy thriller, a science fictional dystopia and red flashing light screaming STOP, GO BACK. It is a glorious, compelling read, which entertains and questions your assumptions in dazzling fashion.