Monday, 30 May 2016

Citizen Jack Review (Sam Humphries, Tommy Patterson)


A presidential campaign where one of the candidates is a female demagogue suspected of embezzlement, campaign fraud, and corporate corruption and the other is a male demagogue and an anti-intellectual loudmouth pandering to the lowest common denominator on a zero substance platform backed by the forces of darkness - it’s the 2016 US Election Citizen Jack! 

Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson’s Citizen Jack is a satire on American politics whose impact is watered down by the outrageousness of the current election it’s sort of modelled on though it’s still an enjoyable enough read. 

Jack Northworthy is a drunken divorcee snowblower salesman who decides to run for office and, with the help of a demon called Marlinspike, actually gets somewhere. Jack’s campaign speeches will sound familiar to anyone who keeps up with American politics - he’s essentially a tea party candidate like Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin, talking about Washington insiders, the intellectual elite, and “real” Americans. 

The comic has a manga-esque flavour to it too with Marlinspike looming next to Jack throughout, though only Jack can see him, like the demon/protagonist’s relationship in Death Note. There’s also a talking dolphin pundit on the news that no-one questions which is a bit like some of the anthropomorphised animal characters in Dragon Ball. Generally though Tommy Patterson’s art wasn’t anything special and the already shaky quality got worse towards the end of the book. 

SPOILERS FOR THE NEXT PARAGRAPH

On the whole demon thing, we find out in the end that Marlinspike is challenging an enthroned demon (the King of Hell?) for power and that the Demon King is controlling the British Prime Minister. But why wouldn’t the King control the US President in the first place given how the US is more powerful than Britain? It doesn’t make sense that he’d give Marlinspike a prime opportunity to usurp him using a more powerful human pawn.

SPOILERS END

Obviously being a satire Humphries pushes the boat out on what Jack says and does far beyond anything Donald Trump’s said (and he’s said plenty!) but he’s basically making the same point many people have realised from Trump’s success: people don’t care about facts or figures, they just want someone brash and entertaining who’ll confirm their bias and reassure them generally that things’ll work out. 

Jack being unstoppable because of his demon puppet master makes things a bit less interesting as all tension goes out the window. Otherwise though Citizen Jack is a decent enough comic about American politics even if the satire doesn’t prove to be anywhere near as entertaining as the real election has been so far and promises to be as we get nearer to November.

Citizen Jack

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