"Evil Empire" Vols 1, 2 and 3 from BOOM! Studios (collecting the 12-issue mini-series) -
America. Land of the free. Home of the depraved. In the future, the United States has fallen into a violent, hedonistic government, a government that supports self-expression like never before, a government that puts personal freedoms above all, a government that encourages people to express their every impulse, their every desire...Especially the darkest, most vile ones. When a beloved conservative senator, who is almost surely on his way to being the next President of the United States, commits a wanton act of violence, he sets America ablaze with his rhetoric that eschews false morality, and restraint, and gains a massive following of people who subscribe to his doctrine of ultimate self-expression and the absence of all political correctness. It looks like Democratic Nominee, Sam Duggins, is America's only hope for sanity...Or so it seems. Reese, a hardcore, underground rapper known for her politically charged lyrics, falls in love with Duggins - and no one is more surprised than her. She prepares to support him as all the pieces fall into place for his ascent to the presidency...But what she doesn't know is that Duggins is harboring a dark, dark secret that will turn their love to the most ardent hatred, and cast the United States into the fires of total, and complete hedonism. Welcome to the Evil Empire. Let freedom ring.
Created and written by Max Bemis, "Evil Empire" is a sweeping tale that chronicles the fall of America, and its transformation into the much talked about dystopia that we all fear, and hope never materializes. Bemis creates amazing, three-dimensional characters to carry his story: Reese, the angry liberal protagonist who ends up fighting for what some might say is some semblance of conservative values; Kenneth Laramy, the conservative champion who commits a depraved, heinous act that sets the country on an insane path to hedonism and moral corruption; and Sam Duggins, the liberal champion whose hidden past, secret appetites and monstrous agenda ring in the age of the Evil Empire. No one is what they seem, nor do they always behave as the reader thinks they are supposed. Bemis is working with some complex themes here, but his apparent mistrust of politics and politicians on both sides of the American political machine is the clearly evident, overarching theme. Is self-rule the actual answer for mankind, or should we be left to our own devices in the hope that harmony will eventually spring from absolute, individual freedom? I guess your point of view would depend on whether you have faith that mankind possesses an intrinsic goodness or not. Bemis
masterfully paints a picture of his point of view in "Evil Empire," a work which I would say is a modern masterpiece of comics. Bemis manages to relate the grand story of the fall of a nation, while not neglecting the individual human stories that unfold while everything is circling the drain - unlikely villains and heroes, if you could classify them so simply, pop up in places one would never expect, all with compelling, and sometimes insane, motivations. "Evil Empire" is a haunting, gripping, complex page-turner, buttressed by the dynamic, distinctive work of the legion of artists who are tied to this project, from Andrea Mutti, to Joe Eisma, to Victor Santos and others.
RATING: 10 out of 10. Journey into the fall of America with Max Bemis. You'll be glad you did. It's my favorite kind of book - the kind that stalks you, and haunts you after you've closed the final cover.
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