Alistair Meath finally knows who he is and where he fits into this brave new world, but does he really? Find out in Kino #16, if you dare!
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Diego Galindo
Colorist: Valentina Pinto
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 29, 2019
Previously in Kino: Prime Minister Spode has been busy dismantling the government, breaking up trade unions, etc. Kino is dispatched to help Italy turn away refugees (not how the Spode-controlled news calls it), realizes this is wrong, and refuses to comply. For this, Spode sends him to a psychologist…and listens in. Meanwhile, Dev and Coal infiltrate a Foresight facility in Canada. They’re shipping serum to England while their test subjects are rather horrific. Back in England, two more events occur. At one of Spode’s press conferences, Aidan Myers’ mother confronts Kino to ask what happened to her son (and whom Kino was told would be “looked after”). Later, the TV news shows the opening incident off Italy’s coast, framing it as Kino being attacked by a migrant flotilla.
THE ULTIMATE IN GASLIGHTING
Kino #16 opens with Alistair Meath face to face with Aidan Myers in a hospital. Myers is remarkably calm, considering their all-out battle just a short time ago, which he attributes to Thorazine. Alistair asks about the virtual reality helmet he was wearing, as witnesses had the distinct impression he was talking to someone. Myers can’t help. He can’t tell him where he got the helmet. After he leaves, we already knew this was not the real Myers, and we learn that it was Gabby. To go through such great lengths to subvert the truth, as Spode is doing all the time, is absolutely horrifying, even more, when we can see what’s going on, and we know Kino can’t.
No sooner does he get back to the city when sees a couple of superpowered people wearing outfits with Maltese crosses. One of them is burning things up, and the people in their vicinity are speaking nonsense as they flee. These people are from the Knights of Albion, which Alistair recognizes as a hate group, which they deny – in their view, they’re saving the realm from the enemy within. They ask Alistair to join them and lead them; instead, he tries to stop them. And as he grabs the woman, who turns out to be a teenager, his son David throws a can at him and tells him to stop.
David was handing out Knights of Albion leaflets. And he has a Maltese cross tattoo on his upper chest. For a family which is already under stress, this is just about too much. His mother Patricia strikes him. This shakes her up, and she admits to feeling as though she’s going mad, as though maybe the asteroid actually hit the Earth and they’re in Hell now. I think this does capture the feelings of many people who live in countries where things feel like they’re falling apart further day by day, and where the reality we’ve taken for granted for years is becoming dismantled before our eyes.
But things can get more complicated yet. Meath goes to Aidan Myers’ mother’s house, finds the door open, and discovers that she’s killed herself. From outside, Gabby spies on him.
From Canada, Coal and Devlin work up a cool way of reaching Alistair through his television. (But doesn’t that fit into a theme of madness – where one thinks the television is sending secret messages to them?) Devlin tells him they’ve uncovered evidence of an asteroid-derived biological weapon. This was manufactured by Lorena Payan’s company, and Spode has publicly denounced her. Yet this serum is on its way to the Ministry of Defense. Meath cuts the communication short; he doesn’t know who to believe anymore.
WITH PARANOIA AND CONFUSION FOR ALL
The first half dozen pages of Kino #16 look, on the surface, so mundane. But it’s all about the subtlety of the dialogue elegantly echoed in the art. The small moments, the slight changes in expression are so disquieting. We, after all, know that something is wrong here – but does Kino have any hope of figuring it out? This is no small job when Spode is messing with his reality from so many directions.
The depictions of Gabby as she impersonates Myers are really disquieting. There are a couple points where we see the transformation, and it just sends chills up my spine. I also like the way Coal uses his cybernetic eye as a television camera to transmit Devlin’s message to Kino. It’s creative, very sci-fi, but it also feels like tech that we’re just a few years away from.
In fact, I think that’s one the main things that makes this book so chilling. Focus on the characters more than their superpowers, and this seems like something lifting from today’s news, or the news of the next few years. Or maybe not the news, if the powers that be are able to distract from it.
BOTTOM LINE: A TERRIFIC POLITICAL THRILLER
Kino #16 is a hard-hitting and gripping story. We can see Kino’s grip on what is reality and what is not slipping, revealing the man inside the superhero, struggling to do the right thing. Meanwhile that reality is in the hands of a man with the money and resources to play with it like a cat plays with a mouse.
As much as I hate seeing what Kino is being put through, I simply cannot look away.