Two months back Archaia began a new mini-series, created by actor-producer-director Alyssa Milano and written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. The series has explored the concept of high-level governmental hacking being used to promote activism in order to aid reveolution in a troubled nation. In this case, that is Tunisia, where one of our protagonists lives. The first two issues of the series have been quite fun indeed and better than I expected them to be. The series has done well until now in dealing with some of the consequences and challenges of the internet age, and with the third issue that looks set to continue.
Hacktivist #3 picks up from where the last issue left off, with Ed Hiccox now in Tunisia after the US government tried to take over his company, which he and his friend Nate Graft had built up to be a social media powerhouse. He burned his bridges and now he is on the deck, facing up to the consequences of what he and Nate did to aid the rebels in the country, and this time I think the story really hits its stride. With the level of writing still far above par and the same for the artwork, I’m still liking this.
This issue is all about the characters experiencing role reversals. Nate now steps up as the man to run YourLife while Ed gets hands-down and up-front with the reality of what the two of them did and Sirine has to face up to what the power of the internet and mass communication really is. Each character has to step outside of their comfort zone and face things they didn’t really expect, and that’s where the story gets really, really fun. Plus we get to see some ruthlessness from the government agent who is overseeing Nate and YourLife, which was fun in a whole different way.
Another thing is that there is a fair amount of humour packed into this issue, more so than in the previous issues. That keeps lively since the story itself is quite dark. When you mix revolution with hacking and charges of treason and what not, things are never pretty, especially when lethal weapons and passions are involved. It is safe to say that there is a fair amount of bloodshed in the new issue but then again, the writers/artists do well in keeping most of that off-screen. We just need to know that it has happened, not see it. Which works just fine for me.
Something else I liked was that we finally got to revisit Sirine and the rebels in Tunisia. Their struggles were touched on in the first issue and after that we didn’t really see anything in the second issue. Considering that the mini-series deals with these people’s interests as a core element, this was odd and unwelcome. But issue three changes that around completely and through both Ed and Sirine we see what the ground realities are.
Which brings me to the next point, and that is that this issue is packed with exposition. We have Ed explaining to Sirine what he and Nate tried to do with YourLife to help the Tunisian rebels. We have Ed explaining to her and her allies how he can aid them on the ground even though he is now cut-off from the resources he had when he ran YourLife with Nate. Lots of dense panels, but the best thing is that the story continues on at a pretty swift pace. It is easy to keep up and you never feel lost, which is pretty awesome.
The fact that the story deals so closely with issues relevant to all of us today is just the icing on the cake.
As with previous issues, Marcus To is pretty much killing on the artwork here. He has assists from David Cutler for this issue and Ian Herring is still around for colours. Together, they are a pretty solid team in all respects, and I loved every visual in this issue. Particularly, Deron Bennett’s letters were doubly great because of the differences between the various languages being spoken are communicated to the reader, with differences in colours and small notations in each text box. Doubly important since there is a mixture of English, Arabic and French being spoken for much of the second half.
Overall, a fantastic issue, better than the last one.