First off, I should say I am freaking ashamed of myself in the fact that it’s been this freaking long since my last post. Second, I should claim myself imposed hatred on the sheer fact that it took me this long to finish the Channel Zero COLLECTED. Complete with both the original graphic novel, Channel Zero, written and drawn by the master Brian Wood and the story that followed, Jennie One which was actually the prequel, written by Wood and drawn by the enigmatic Becky “FREAKING” Cloonan. This tome was loaded with tons of extras. Possibly more than the slobbering Wood and Cloonan UBER fan could hope for. Hand written scripts, and tons of layouts.
Let me say first, this has no capes or masks in it. No super powers. And it’s all in black and white. Still with me?… Ok, please read on.
I first read Channel Zero years ago. I was excited to see something so political and subversive in comics. And knowing it had been picked up by Dark Horse and then COLLECTED with Wood’s sequel/prequel Jennie One, makes it that much more amazing. You knew, DC or Marvel wouldn’t risk something like this. Especially back then. But now, it seems everyone is trying to put out subversive stuff. But it’s nothing like Channel Zero.
One of the nicest things about the original release was that Wood included “public domain” type images, so you could get in on the subversiveness. And being that I myself and trying to slip in subversive ideas with Youth in Asia, Brian Wood is one of my favorite creators. The fact that he has left the drawing behind to take over writing completely is a bit disheartening. Thing is, without that ball and chain that is art fastened to his leg, he is cranking out some of the best stuff in comics. Take a look at DMZ or Northlanders. Wood doesn’t write the typical capes and masks type of fare. But he could. That’s the thing that blows my mind. He could totally destroy Batman’s whole freaking world with one issue. He’s that freaking good.
Then there’s Cloonan. Yang to Wood’s Yin, Cloonan is a “jack” of so many styles. AND master of them all. Becky Cloonan is something most comic book artist should aspire to. She’s like what Bruce Lee used to talk about being formless. Please don’t think this is a knock. It isn’t. Becky is not zoned into one particular style. She is a consummate graphic artist. She could do anything, for any company and knock it the hell out of the park. Thing is, Cloonan’s work on indie comics is nothing short of amazing. Channel Zero: Jennie One, Conan, Demo, Pixu and more. She is as good as I say she is. Better in fact.
And she deserves to be making the kind of money we know Rob Liefeld is making for completely screwing up anatomy. That was another blog, and you no doubt read that too. Cloonan is the Anti-Liefeld. And the fact that she’s a super nice person and all tatted up is really cool to know too. I got the chance to meet Becky at APE in 2008. Sadly that Expo is only two days and I didn’t realize it was Becky until like halfway through the second day. She was nice enough to sign a copy of her sketch book for me, and wrote something truly funny about waiting until the very last minute before closing to approach her.
The world of Channel Zero is bleak. Dystopian if you will. The country is practically under marshal law, and the government, this time, actually controlled by the media has a hit squad on the pay roll to deal with anyone who dares step out of place. Like with a lot of things going on today, most of the Sheeple in Channel Zero just go about their days. No doubt wishing something would change, but having neither the guts or the gumption to even begin to make that change.
Enter Jennie 2.5, a media pirate and freedom fighter, who high jacks the air waves not unlike V in the V for Vendetta movie. The signal interruption lasts a scant few seconds, but Jennie 2.5 has proven her point, the media controlled mega government is capable of being broken. However those precious few seconds may have just cost Jennie her life. The media, born of censorship, spins the message to make Jennie out to be the bad guy, the rebel and a terrorist. But I remember reading about a group of men, who disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians (remember this is before the now more acceptable term of Native Americans) and dumped a bunch of tea into Boston Harbor, which ignited the flames of the Revolutionary War. Think of how minimalistic this act would be in today’s world. The headline would read something like, “Group of racists, slander Native tribe and pollute Boston Harbor.” It wouldn’t have the impact it had more than two centuries ago. Thing is, Jennie didn’t want everyone to think like her, she just wanted them to wake up and think for themselves.
Jennie 2.5 is a bad ass anti-hero the likes of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 or Ellen Ripley in Aliens. Brave. Tough. And hard as hell to knock down. And I feel this is the type of role model we should look to in comics. Not your run of the mill do gooder, clad in spandex and wearing his underwear on the outside. Jennie 2.5 can teach us everything that V taught us in Moore’s Vendetta, without killing anyone or becoming a martyr. Because, just like V, it doesn’t matter who started the revolution. It matters that it started.
If you’re into politics. If you like something that’s gonna make you think. If you can appreciate how ahead of his time Brian Wood was and then still is. If you like amazingly written, taut and extreme urban nightmares, you’re gonna wanna shoot yourself just to get a copy of this. If you don’t, you’re probably some racist, xenophobe who wants to oppress people and use them as stepping stones who is also a gun totting member of the Tea Bagger party. And with that said, I give the grade for this fantastic yarn spun by Messer’s Wood and Cloonan.
This moment was almost, if not more than a year in the making. In November of 1999, Stone Cold Steve Austin was taken out of action by a mystery driver who ran him down outside the stadium. The date is now late 2000, and Austin has just made a comeback taking out almost everyone in the locker room as a possible suspect in the hit and run that cost him a year of surgery and rehab. Near misses have almost taken out Austin week after week on both Raw and Smackdown. The culprit has not be been revealed. Only a hand clad in a black leather glove has been caught on camera. Halfway through this episode of Raw, Triple H was cementing his turn as a babyface from the man who retired Mick Foley less than one year ago. In an eight man tag team match he reunites with Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and Chyna to reform DX for one more night. The match gets a big pop and HHH is cemented as a white meat babyface.
The end of the show has Austin confronting and then getting attacked by Rikishi and Kurt Angle. Austin is being pummeled. All of sudden, Triple H’s music hits and the crowd loses it. Jerry Lawler can be heard screaming, “here comes some help!” Hunter walks to ring carrying his trademark sledgehammer. Triple H chases Rikishi out of the ring and then bludgeons Angle. Austin begins to get up from the mat, and you can already feel the buzz building. Triple H nails Austin with the sledgehammer, effectively KOing him. Triple H then begins putting on a black leather glove, grabs the house mic, straddles Austin and spurts, “Austin…. Your search, it’s over. It’s all over. No you know. You dumb son of a bitch!” The mastermind behind derailing the 3:16 Machine for 1 year is the man who had the most to gain by it. “The Cerebral Assassin,” Triple H.