Ales Kot takes a new, colorful look at the impact of a police state on its citizens as the forces of anarchy and order clash in New California.
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Tradd Moore
Colorist: Heather Moore
Letterer: Layton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 29, 2018
Previously in The New World #2: In the aftermath of a new American civil war, California has split away and become New California. In the aftermath, a police state emerges to control the new nation, and in response, anarchists begin a campaign of freedom. In a Romeo and Juliet style twist, our two leads, representing the rebel side and the state, fall for one another. It is their coming together that animates this latest issue.
DAYS OF HATE LITE
Not every examination of man’s seemingly unquenched desire to dominate his fellow man necessarily needs to be Orwell’s 1984. With The New World #2, there is more than a touch of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, with its absurdist surface masking the darker tendencies circling beneath. Truth be told, thanks to the artwork, there’s more of the former than the latter.
Ales Kot’s Days of Hate series has made a big impact on the comic industry, combining a near future American police state with grim art and even grimmer storytelling. In contrast, The New World #2 is a candy-coloured version of the same idea rendered with a lighter touch. A police state runs New California, populated with faceless goons who say ‘bruh’ to each other as if they’re down on the beach ready to catch the next big wave. Stella, star of The Guardians, is the granddaughter of the current leader of New California. Wired for audio and sound, her adventures in putting down the anarchist’s rebellion is broadcast in real time to the masses huddled in their homes. The New World (the irony of the title is one no one should misunderstand) #2 opens with Stella Maris, and her goons, readying to storm a house containing future love interest, Loki L’Har.
And then it goes pear-shaped.
DAYGLO GEORGE ORWELL
After the heaviness of Days of Hate, The New World #2 is Ales Kot in a minor key. There is none of the moral compromise, or the fatalism, or the soured ideology that characterize Days of Hate. The artwork, by Tradd Moore, is definitely an acquired taste, made more so by the flatly rendered coloring. The artwork, which has a feel of high camp, does a lot of the heavy lifting of making the issue a lot less brutal and intense than another art approach would’ve realized. Facial expressions are exaggerated, the angles chosen for panels de-intensify the action and the fact no one gets hurt despite all the gunplay, combine to downplay the grittiness of the setting.
There isn’t a lot that is new and original here. The setting (there are actual real-world secessionists in California calling for it to leave the Union) we’ve seen before. The idea of a rebellion against a more powerful and overbearing force is embedded within the founding of America. Even the coming together of scions of both sides of the conflict is a trope as old as fiction.
And yet…The New World #2 is oddly captivating. If the writing leaves you with a heavy sense of the familiar, then it’s the artwork, with its exaggerations and colors and angles, which holds the attention long after the clichéd storyline fades. In that regard, artist Tradd Moore is the real hero of this book.
BOTTOM LINE – DAYS OF HATE IS BETTER, BUT THIS STILL HAS VALUE
As much as any comic looking at a dystopian police state can be a palette cleanser for the real deal, then The New World #2 is it. Cartoonish visuals and a hopeful romance between two individuals who represent both sides of the conflict puncture the often grim and brutal narratives stories of this type usually portray. Kot’s Days of Hate is a remarkable work that often feels terrifyingly plausible due to its grounded portrayal of events. The New World #2, with its bright visuals and romantic leads, offers a different take on a familiar trope, one which takes some getting used to, but has its own value, nonetheless.