I’d like to start today with a little bit of wisdom from one of the great American authors, Kurt Vonnegut. In his novel Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut introduces the reader to the concept of a wrang-wrang: a person who “steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing it to an absurdity.”
In essence, a wrang-wrang is someone who, through their own example, discourages you from heading down a path you might have been thinking of pursuing. Want to be a rock star, and then see Ozzy Osbourne stumbling around like a shambling wreck? Congrats, he’s your wrang-wrang. Want to join a prestigious university and then see their dean being arrested for petty crime on the news? Congrats, he’s your wrang-wrang.
Want to start a new revolutionary war? Well The Recount might very well be your wrang-wrang.
It’s sad to say that in recent years, American political divides have grown wider than ever before. Every night the news is filled with images of protestors marching against counter protestors, with politicians, pundits, and news anchors from both sides of the aisle screaming absurdities about the other side. It’s a tense situation for many, with the majority of Americans just wanting life to return to normal.
The question on everyone’s mind right now though, is how much worse will it get before it gets better?
Which brings us to this week’s review of The Recount from Scout Comics. Here’s the blurb:
When the US President is assassinated by one of his own security detail, a female Secret Service agent named Bree Barto must protect the Vice President at all costs from a mass conspiracy by a group calling themselves ‘The Masses’. With nowhere to turn and no one to trust, these two women with completely opposing political views and beliefs must work together to preserve what’s left of American democracy.
This book is, at its core, a wrang-wrang for those who seek to divide America further than it already is. What would happen if we allowed ourselves to fully abandon our core principals of democracy, and gave in to our basest political impulses? Following the assassination of a resigning US president, a shadowy group of subversive American terrorists take to the airwaves and declare that they are planning on going after every politician, political appointee, and US voter that supported that leader. It’s a fear technique meant to drive a wedge into American society, and further escalate political tensions to a breaking point not seen in the US since the Civil War. Issue 1 ends with the first cracks showing, and those who supported that president starting to fear for their lives.
The Recount was written by Jonathan Hedrick, a US military veteran and relative newcomer to comics. Prior to this, Hedrick has only released a couple self-published titles, but you wouldn’t know it from this book. His prose is fast paced and interesting, and his dialogue, often a weak spot for new writers, is sharp and on point. You can feel the tension are you read, and feel genuine worry for the characters involved as they face the constant threat of death at every turn. It’s a solid thriller, and already I am excited to see where it goes.
The art in The Recount, provided by Gabriel Ibarra, is also solid. The images are visceral and emotional, and the action is easy to follow and visually appealing. The art has to carry a lot of the weight here, because a lot of this story is psychological. Expressions and glances carry a lot of meaning, and the smallest gesture could be an important clue. Nunez does a masterful job of illustrating the book, and I hope to see him on other books in the near future. This is one talented guy.
Thematically, this reminds me a bit of Undiscovered Country by Scott Snyder and Charles Soule. Both books deal with real worries from our current political situation, but while Undiscovered Country treads more into the hyperbolic and fantastical, this book feels all to real. It’s both a testament to the team working on it, and a real warning to those reading it, that the book feels so very believable. It’s sad to say that, while I do not see anything like what is happening in the book actually happening in real life, there is enough truth to it to make me worried. That’s the true hallmark of accurate social satire.
I enjoyed The Recount immensely, and am really interested to see where it goes. I think it has some real potential to reveal some deeper truths about America, and I am onboard for the ride. At the same time I also understand that there are some real problems in America, and that we have to come together and heal those divides. Let’s use The Recount as our wrang-wrang, our warning and our wake-up call, and start the healing process now before it goes to far.
Until next time friends, stay safe and look out for each other.