Comic Review: Campaigners
Presidential elections in the United States are always ripe for parodying, and 2016 may go down as one of the most insane campaign seasons to date. The folks at Zero Press seemed to have picked up on that and have started working on a 5-issue limited series, Campaigners.
Campaigners “imagines” a world 60 years into the future where political debates have been replaced by no-holds-barred fight to the death. If nothing else, it would weed out the weaker candidates from running. And here’s my first big problem with the first two issues of the series, they really don’t do anything with this aspect of the concept.
There’s very little in this comic that feels or looks “futuristic.” Outside of pop-up screens for personal use, the setting could be the current-day and nothing would really change. Not even the style seems out there.
As for the no-holds-barred fight to the death, we really don’t see that in-action either. The only real hints we get of it (outside of characters mentioning that is what happens) is a scene of the President in the White House training. I feel to really drive home the nature of these brutal brawls, it would have been better to start the comic showing how our current President got voted in.
With the series does focus on, and what mostly works, is the adventures of teenage political rebel, Bee, and her best friend and outspoken advocate, Kydra after Kydra reveals that she isn’t a fan of the whole, current political process. Here is where the book is at its strongest when lampooning the current-state of conversation in this country with a look at responses on the news and online. Brendan Hykes has a real understanding of both the toxic nature of online communities and the oft-forgotten outside that can quickly turn a movement or message into a online frenzy.
Something, we hardly think about is what happens when someone is thrust into the limelight as an Internet/online celebrity. Intentionally or not, their life is transferred over night, and those who know them come along for the ride. How Kydra deals with the added pressure is something that book begins to tackle with issue 2, and I like the way it is going. With her becoming a reluctant figure because people need someone to follow. Where Bee, who isn’t thrust into the light the same way, is more than happy to ride the wave and even push Kydra further. Their friendship and path is what most has me hooked for the reminder of the series.
The book goes for a nice and clean design, which works in its favor. It is a comic that focuses more on the characters than action so this brings attention to their look and facial expressions. At times, I think the backgrounds can be a bit too basic, but again doesn’t take anything away from the story.
But like noted before, I’m slightly disappointed that the team didn’t go a bit more crazy with their version of 2076. Where’s the modern-day equivalent of Back to the Future’s hoverboard? I know the future isn’t necessarily the focus of the book, but really would have been nice to see them go crazy with their designs.
Review 4 (out of 7) – Campaigners has all the potential in the world. The concept is unique and engaging. The political atmosphere is ripe for satire. The online world is waiting to be poked fun of, but the book never goes beyond the surface-level and truly the biggest disappointment. There’s 3 issues to turn it around, and I hope they pull it off. Because as they say, you can’t make a living off potential.