When a character burns himself to death in the opening pages things rapidly go downhill from there. Join us for a story that gets blacker page by page in the compelling, morally compromised landscape of a broken America in Days of Hate #9.
Writer: Ales Kot
Art: Danijel Zezelj
Lettered: Aditya Bidikar
Colored: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Release Date: October 24th, 2018
Previously in Days of Hate: America is an armed camp. Left and right have taken up arms against each other, embarking on murder sprees and fire bombings while the Deep State strangles American democracy in the name of freedom. Conspirators Arvid and Amanda have finally arrived in Washington DC with revenge on their minds, while Chinese-American Hiuan Xing is once again scooped up for interrogation and blackmail by her lover, Agent Freeman. Can things get worse for America and these characters? You betcha they can…
AMERICA IS BURNING
As I write, only hours ago news broke that a number of parcel bombs were intercepted before they reached prominent Democratic politicians. What should’ve been a moment of national unity and shared repugnance, predictably dissolved into partisan squabbling as Republicans and Democrats swiftly went on the attack. As an observer of American politics for almost 30 years, and a keen student of its history, this hyper-partisanship is equal parts distressing and infuriating. It also fills me with dread of what worse things may come.
And dread is the sensation that permeates Days of Hate #9. A pall hangs over the entire issue, which opens with a man burning himself and his family home to death. From that cheery opening, we move to the twin storylines of Hiung, Arvid and Amanda. Hiung, a woman of Chinese heritage, is again taken into custody for more interrogation. The other leads, two left-wing radicals who have journeyed to the US capital, wait for their moment to enact their revenge on a regime they believe has plunged their nation into a nightmare.
Writer Ales Kot creates a palpable sense throughout Days of Hate #9 that something terrible is about to happen, on a personal and national level. Shots of the Washington DC skyline portend an attack designed to punish and bring the ruling elite to its knees. Threats to the parents of the person being interrogated and dreams of disaster by one of the radicals point to the underlying hysteria permeating the country.
His writing is punchy and powerful. The characters are damaged in fundamental ways, compromised by the choices they have made and the price paid, and each exhibit a fatalism that propels themselves and the storyline to a seemingly inevitable end. There is no sense that anything anyone does to pull America back from the abyss will solve the problems besetting it. Indeed, things can only get worse, and yet they plunge ahead towards total disaster. It really is very good writing.
Aiding and abetting the writing is the strong artwork by Danijel Zezelj. Bold strokes portray the starkness of the setting and the character’s situation. None of the scenes is set during the day – it’s either dusk or full night. Orange shades into blue and black as shadows press around the characters. The DC skyline is more defined by the shadows than the lights illuminating the monuments and man-made temples to a fallen democracy.
PUTTING ITS HEAD IN THE NOOSE
Days of Hate is set in the America of 2022, where events have spiraled to the point where concentration camps have been established, where Muslims and other minorities are routinely targeted by law enforcement, where fire bombings and outright murder by militias on the right and the left have become the norm, and where the surveillance state runs rampant through the civil rights of the citizens they ostensibly protect. It’s powerful and ugly and ultimately deeply depressing.
The rhetoric of the last 2-3 years in American politics informs Days of Hate to the point where the reader feels they are choking on it – words designed to enrage, infuriate, divide and undermine the very foundations of the great American experiment.
BOTTOM LINE – DISASTER BECKONS
The glittering shining city on a hill has become a broken wreck, shattered from within by a polity and a people that began to see each other as strangers before deciding they were enemies instead. Days of Hate #9, and the series overall is not for the faint-hearted. It is visceral and raw and in the best tradition of American free speech, pungent and in your face. But it does speak to the moment, wherever you sit on the political divide and points to a worrying trend in America today.
Fake news. Congressmen shot at on a baseball field. Partisan rancor. Charlottesville. Children in detention. Pipe bombs in the mail. What next? Something bad is coming and Days of Hate may well turn out to be more prophecy than story.
Days of Hate #9
Something bad is coming and Days of Hate may well turn out to be more prophecy than story.