from guest blogger, Francisca Goldsmith:
Here’s a graphic novel that has something for everyone without losing any one of its readers along the way or compromising its heavy punches. Venditti and Huddleston aren’t shy with their criticisms of invasive data collection on the part of the government, but in their hands this remains great storytelling rather than screed or dogmatism.
Laura Regan works for the Federal government’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) and it’s because of her specialization and investigatory energy that both the “good” guys and the “bad” would like to have her on their side. Both sides are populated by government officials including, on the side of “bad,” the Secretary of Homeland Security, and on the good, an overweight accountant who can’t quite keep the heroes’ secrets even though he really tries. In short, these characters are rounded in narrative account as well as richly depicted without any of them sinking into stereotypical comicbook physiques or supernatural behaviors. It took brains to develop the plot to undermine citizens’ faith in their ability to respond to the epidemic breaking out across the nation and it takes collective thinking and creativity on the parts of the heroes to both uncover the details of the plot and respond to it effectively.
The multiple art styles Huddleston employs invigorates the already taut pace while amplifying the quickly changing scenes. In short, this graphic novel not only could be a boon in the political science and literature classrooms, but also as a model for creators in the format: style and content are kept in constant balance, demanding the reader to track both without either ever disappointing or disappearing before the eye or mind. Thriller loving teens will eat this like candy, but it’s better for their diet than any Dan Brown.
Adult/High School–The premise in this genre-blending political commentary/thriller is compelling: the government’s various investigatory agencies have determined that U.S. residents can be more deeply probed for undertaking suspicious activities by mining everyone’s data DNA, the sum of each person’s online transactions and activities. Venditti’s tight plotting and well-developed characters, envisioned by Huddleston’s variegated artistic approaches, are perfectly suited to one another. The federal plot is in the hands of a few geeks depicted on pages with graph-paper backdrops; the heads of the plotting departments are shown in shadowy and fuzzy grays, with the added symbolism of red highlights; while the heroes are instilled with expressive faces and postures. Although kidnapped by the would-be band of whistle blowers, the necessary brains of the counter-insurgence is a female epidemiologist who is treated with respect by the multiethnic team of ethically minded counteragents. Pacing is steady and the story holds enough realism to prompt serious discussion of the differences between government protection and privacy invasion, where the line between inside and outside the law can be drawn, and where to go when you can’t trust the authorities.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA