One of last year’s most intriguing miniseries “Hacktivist” returns this week with a new and longer miniseries that picks up six months after the events of the last miniseries. Read on for our spoiler free review of “Hacktivist Volume 2” #1.
Written by Alyssa Milano, Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing
Illustrated Marcus To, Ian Herring and Becka Kenzie
It’s been six months since Tunis. Nate Graft’s life was turned upside-down after his best friend Ed Hiccox died, but he’s since pulled things together and is now in charge of VIGIL, the front line of America’s ongoing cyber operations. Just when things are starting to gain some semblance of control, YourLife, the government, and Nate come under attack by a new breed of hacker…who call themselves .sve_urs3lf. Using Nate and Ed’s former handle, they want to know the truth of what happened in Tunis, and they’re calling for blood. Nate’s blood.
“Hacktivist” introduced us to Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft, best friend tech savants who created Your Life, a Twitter/Facebook hybrid that operated completely outside of the government’s reach. The two of them are billionaires but in their spare time they are hackers who work with revolutionaries in Tunisia. After they get caught by the C.I.A., they end up working for the government but this leads to Ed and Nate clashing with Ed eventually going off on his own to help with the Tunisian revolution. It was a good, four issue miniseries that played off a lot of what was happening in the world at the time even if the scope was a little too wide.
“Hacktivist Volume 2” begins six months after Ed is presumed dead, which we know isn’t true. In the wake of what happened in Tunisia, Nate’s role at Your Life is much different and he’s more of a government lackey than anything else. He doesn’t do very much anymore and people hate him. On the very first page, we find out where Ed has been but things haven’t been good for him or the world in general. What happened in Tunisia has led to what is basically a war between hackers and the government and a group of hackers has learned from Ed but are using the technology for bad. Ed and Nate are in a position now to fix things but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as “Hacktivist Volume 2” has a lot to offer.
Right off the bat, the extension to six issues is going to work wonderfully given what is set up. We don’t get the chance to see much of who the villains are but that’s fine, because this team can take it’s time a little bit more. The first volume of “Hacktivist” saw Kelly and Lanzing needing to do a lot in a short amount of time as far as scripting and it ended up feeling like things were a little glossed over when it came to what was happening in Tunisia. “Hacktivist Volume 2” #1 jumps right into things with big, world wide story that really does a great job tapping into what’s happening in real life. Anonymous gets named dropped and the fragility of internet security has a magnifying lens over it.
“Hacktivist Volume 2” doesn’t hit you over the head with its politics but it also doesn’t really shy away from more sensitive topics associated with hacking. Ed, despite needing to work with Nate again, isn’t entirely against what his technology is used for. He wants to do more things like what he did in Tunisia because he think it benefits the greater good but he’s apologetic because what’s about to happen was not in his plan. His technology is being abused in his eyes but without going into spoiler territory, he may also be contradicting his own belief system, but this adds an extra layer to the story an makes Ed very complex.
“Hacktivist Volume 2” #1 relies on a lot of what happened in the first miniseries and that’s great for someone like me who read it but not so great for everyone else. Some major things happen to characters from the first mini that isn’t fully explained here. Brynn is a very bad position but it’s just dropped on us with no context. When we last saw her, we were led to believe that she would have a heap of trouble to deal with, but nothing quite like this. You can follow this story well enough without the first miniseries but you may have some trouble connecting to the characters.Continued below
Marcus To steps in to do the art once again and he does a very nice job settling back into these characters while adding some subtle changes. Ed’s innocence is all but visually gone and it’s not just cause of his beard and long hair. Ed is the genius but he also has this sense of idealism that fueled why he went to Tunisia. To draws him much more worn out and his eyes don’t have that light they once had. The panel layouts in the first few pages with the focus on the phones and the text has such a cool effect. Combined with the wordy dialogue, you get the sense that you’re watching a tension filled thriller. These pages move fast and To nails each panel perfectly by not skipping out on the finer details like the shocked and scared faces of those being attacked. He does something similar near the end with a cyber attack and it’s really cinematic feeling. The effects are almost moving and the way things are arranged on the page are visually stunning.
Ian Herring’s colors work very well in this issue and have a lot of range. He’s assisted by Becka Kenzie and it’s impossible (at least for me) to see where their styles separate. They work together very nicely and create a great looking comic book. The colors are bright with lots of red used to emphasize the technology. It’s almost a little too Terminator but it does get the point across. The mix of blues and greens in Nate’s office are a stark contrast to the rest of the world and that again reflects a lot of what he’s been through and where he is right now. The darker, nighttime scenes are wonderfully done with almost perfect shadow effects.
“Hacktivist Volume 2” #1 is a nice start to what will hopefully be a very memorable sequel. There’s a lot here to deconstruct and analyze and I hope this series can pull it off properly.
Final Verdict: 7.8 – “Hacktivist Volume 2” #1 is a solid start that brings readers back into this world nicely.