Comic Wednesday: Channel Zero

Click the link above to access this on Dark Horse’s webpage!

Channel Zero Review

     Awhile ago, Dark Horse Comics allowed me to access another of their recently released titles, this time it was a republished volume of an “oldie, but goodie.” I never really understood that slang phrase because it makes it sound like anything that is slightly aged has depreciated in quality. Based on what I read of Channel Zero though, it has not become decrepit to the point of being irrelevant. Conversely, the premise of the comic seems shockingly much more relevant than when it was published.

     Intriguingly, the comic has a dystopian mood and was written in the late nineties, around the advent of the invention of the internet. In this fractious world, particularly in the United States, ultra-conservative Christians have dominated the political scene in America, and have essentially taken advantage of the destabilized status of the American Government. Within this comic, there are fascinatingly no colored images, rather there are a bevy of black and white images that are curiously drawn in a manga style. Normally, manga reads though from right to left, while this comic reads from left to right because it is an American comic.

There are cyber rebels in this comic, who utilize the power of primordial dial-up connections

    Anyways, the main antagonistic force within this comic is interestingly politicized, fundamentalist Christianity. It is not a comic that is insidiously targeting Christianity as a whole. It is not blithely unaware of the deep complexity of Christianity, which is a religion that can hardly be defined as “monolithic.” Anyone who lives within America though should find this theocratic religious model to be a very frightening reminder of the behavior of our own Christian fundamentalists. Essentially, this comic preceded the dawning of “Fox News,” but the theme was still pertinent in its time because the fundamentalists gained much more traction politically around the seventies. They were basically a reaction to the excessive liberalization of our country at the time. Naturally, a counter force always constructs itself as a reaction to great renovation. Some people cannot adapt themselves to a world where all the values they were formerly complacent with have become obsolete. Beneath the facade of being “religious,” the fundamentalists are just a reactionary group that works to revert the conditions of our country that offers them the security they once thrived on. Within all ideological groups, the predominant thing, beyond the face of political parties and religious sects, that everyone desires is commodious structure. Otherwise, the “God” or “Gods” throughout time being invoked are merely theatrical acts meant to implore the ardent followers of religion to invest their energy to supporting a specific political movement. 

     This comic expertly illustrates this wild political scene that is recurrent throughout historical civilization. In the meantime, there are always renegade groups/rebels, much like the aptly named “rebels” within the original Star War Films. In “Channel Zero,” they are the rebellious group that works to regain their voice in a society where there are restrictive rights in relation to what type of political message can be broadcast. Basically, the world has been overrun by “Fox News” in the contemporary sense;any group that supports their message or an Evanglical one basically are the only accepted group. The rebels are working for true democracy,and anyone reading the comics will hopefully cheer for this group throughout the comics, even those who might ally themselves with the fundamentalists who have control. Again, its not an Anti-Christian comic. There is an interesting quote ironically from the Pope within the comic, who decries American Evangelism for essentially being “American totalitarianism in disguise.” If you ever study the Christian fundamentalist movement, it is always surprising to see that  a extreme form of capitalism is worshiped over “God.” American Evangelism is not truly interested in spiritual goals, just like any institutionalized religion that effectively becomes subsumed into the political scene of the time. I think the comic offers a very substantive message about the dangers of this form of politicized religion. It is not against those who are humble, inquisitive followers of any religion. This is a distinction that might be muddled in the minds of people who read this brilliant comic.

     Essentially, this is a perfect time for this comic to be reprinted by “Dark Horse Comics,” because the message continues to be very relevant. Also, the illustrations, while they are colorless, help evoke the loss of “color” and dynamic opinion in a world where these things are easily manipulated or restrained. Anyone who likes scifi punk shows like Dark Angel will ultimately love this because the mood of the comic is distinctly scifi punk. I really enjoyed this comic overall because it is highly relevant and very thought-provoking; it is another example of comic books that are written with intelligence.

I obtained a complimentary of copy of this from Dark Horse Comics via Netgalley.

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