Now is the winter of our discontent, and no sun of York to bring about the summer. Guess we’ll have to figure out how to make that happen on our own.
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Danijel Zezelj
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Aditya Bidika
Design by Tom Muller
The United States of America, 2022. The loss that ripped them apart drove one into the arms of the police state and the other towards a guerrilla war against the white supremacy. Now they meet again.This is a story of a war.
Despite the solicit promising a guerilla war against white supremacist, the first issue doesn’t have the frenetic or punkish energy of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by the Dead Kennedys. It doesn’t have a symphony of complicated, graphic, messy, violence like other contemporary Nazi killing media like Green Room or Inglorious Bastards (at least not yet). Violence is ever present but predominately in the past, or in the psyche of the characters, placing it far off panel. This first issue isn’t big or grand, it’s a personal mood piece of decay and correction powered by Danijel Zezelj art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors. I’m not sure what I expected going into “Days of Hate” #1, but after a couple of reads and some thought I may have gotten what I needed from it.
There’s this undercurrent of a bad feeling in issue one, that something very bad has happened and you can’t quite make sense of it. It’s a feeling that’s been in my gut most of last year. Writer Ales Kot about as artfully as possible, quickly drops some exposition about the state of things in America 2022; we all thought 2016-17 were bad but it just kept getting worse, there was a civil war, more stuff happened, and now people just aren’t angry anymore. Well, some just haven’t stopped being angry for their own reasons. That may be something worth tracking as the series progresses given our adoration for Bruce “I’m Always Angry” Banner.
In dystopian fiction it’s not so much “how” the state of things fell, but a recognition that something has broken, and this is the result. That broken feeling comes through in the art by Danijel Zezelj and Jordie Bellaire. There’s a rotten quality to the cityscapes even if Bellaire’s quite pallet makes the L.A. at night look beautiful. The series opens with two of our protagonists standing in the remains of a firebombed gay club adorned in post-fire swastika. It’s not a pretty sight. But then the story pulls outside of the building and the L.A. skyline looms in the distance, and the inside of that building doesn’t look all that different from the rest of the outside world.
Zezelj’s inking in this issue for the environment appears to be an application of dry brush. It creates these thick long black streaks that slowly thin out as the paint runs out. In the thinning it creates an almost spray paint effect, that gives environments this appearance of encroaching black mold. His figure design feels more akin to traditional tattoo work with strong line work. This creates hints of definition, but everything is overall fairly flat. That metaphor would follow through a bit more if Bellaire’s pallet was sparser and more luminous. Instead it’s this excellent subtle blending of colors. Her pallet and on Zezelj’s environments make for several hypnotic panels, one features Amanda standing alone in a bathroom is the centerpiece of the page and it makes you hang there for a couple of seconds. Bellaire’s pallet is muted, but it’s also chalked full of normally bright colors like pink. This book is awash in pink and feeds into that undercurrent of malcontent. Red would be too obvious an “angry” color, but pink is just lightish red as one of my high school friend’s favorite shirts would say. As Amanda and her conspirator drive away, it’s all pink and then the bomb goes off in that background, a bright orange fire ball.
I would never solely recommend a book just for its art, but if the subject matter maybe hits a little too close to home the artwork in this issue may make up for some of those ill feelings.Continued below
“Anger” is this word that keeps popping up, but this book isn’t impulsive in that feeling. Like Bellaire’s color pallet it’s masked. Zezelj figures are flattish but the book is interested in tracking their emotional range. Amanda is a bit of a cipher at the moment, she isn’t a blank face but always putting on a face for some other purpose. The other face the issue is most interested in is Amanda’s ex-wife Huian Xing, who is being interviewed about their history together by the secret police. The interview room the scene takes place in is cold, pale blues and heavy blacks, it’s perfect for capturing the various reactions Huian goes through in this act of remembering. The majority of this history is realized in an overlapping single page one Bellaire fills it with pink but as the page is read it slowly becomes more and more red. The page becomes the emotional primer that encapsulates why Huian would turn on her ex this way.
Divining what one of the overarching thematic end points of the series is this early on is a fool’s errand. But the upside of the episodic format is the ability to create, expand, and question a series of thematic motifs. For this issue, the cover says it all. A pair of hands wrapped in barbwire trying to connect with one another, but are unable. It presages the corrosive effects unchecked anger have had on Amanda, Huian, and the world of the story. Like a good O’ll fashioned barbed wire deathmatches, there isn’t any good place to land and all it does is tear you up. It drives one woman to kill the things she hates and another into the arms of a totalitarian regime that will at best tolerates her while she’s useful.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – With a series that is trading on certain timely feelings, the focus on that singular emotion and how it ties this issue together has set this series up to be something more than a lurid ripped from the headlines affair.