Calexit # 1
Written by: Matteo Pizzolo
Art By: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colored by: Tyler Boss
Lettered by: Jim Campbell
Published by: Black Mask Studios
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
In comic shops tomorrow!
It’s no secret that when our latest President won the Electoral College vote that there was one state that, almost as a whole, completely disagreed with the results of election. California is considered by many the biggest reason that the current occupant of the White House lost the popular vote by about three million ballots. It’s also no secret that as soon as the GOP’s great white hope took the reins of power that a small, but somewhat wrongheaded, movement rose up in the Golden State seeking to secede from the Union. This movement never really took root in the California public consciousness mostly because the idea of secession itself is pretty much ludicrous but also partially because many people who opposed the frustrated pussy grabber President realized that California had enough power on its own to sway the momentum of the country even if its favored candidate didn’t become the Commander-In-Chief. Being the sixth largest economy in the world gives California a bit of a powerful voice when it comes to the political conversation in this country even if those politics don’t agree with what those in Washington DC stand for. California’s strength was its biggest reason for staying in the United States so the argument for secession made no sense from the get-go. Proponents of secession pretty much lost their argument from the moment that conversation started as it made no sense from any perspective to pull away from the main body of the United States. If you’re the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room that everyone has to listen to…then why leave the room? It also didn’t help that the whole secession movement may have been originally funded by a crooked Russian operative.
But what if California did take the drastic step of actually seceding from the United States? California natives who backed the proposal seemed to be under the mistaken notion that life in the state of eternal sunshine would just go on as it always does. The writer of Calexit knows differently, and he fashions a smart and entertaining tale to explain why California exiting the Union might not be the best thing for the residents of California. Pizzolo approaches the reality of what would happen to Golden State with logic, parsing out a realistic possible outcome of events that could happen in California were it to suddenly declare its independence. The world of post-secession California is not as rosy as many left coast liberals would hope as Pizzolo’s alternate reality left coast has descended into different factions fighting for control. Much of the geographic area of the state actually remains loyal to the Eastern part of the country as the separatists are only able to maintain a stronghold in some smaller city states up and down the length of California. The liberal fantasyland that so many people envisioned does not exist in this version of an independent California as many areas that readers would automatically assume would be left leaning strongholds have been overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the rural population surrounding them. Pizzolo paints a very grim picture of what a California separate from the U.S. of A would look like and it’s very splintered place indeed.
Calexit also offers up a great story beyond its somewhat realistic geopolitical fantasy. The narrative centers around three central characters in the first issue: A drug courier, an immigrant/rebel on the run, and the head of the totalitarian anti-California police/military forces. Each sequence that centers around the individuals focused upon offers its own unique perspective of the world within Calexit. There’s humor, tension, and an action packed True Romance style climax towards the end of the issue that is just gangbusters, edge of your seat entertaining. Make no mistake, while Calexit is definitely offering up its own view of a dystopian future reality influenced by the political realities of today, it still is a comic that is a heck of a fun read and a wild ride as well. Pizzolo offers up some great characterization, terrific set pieces filled with taut drama, and a believable setting that will suck readers in from Calexit’s first pages.
The artwork in Calexit is terrific as well. Artist Nahuelpan and colorist Boss produce some really nice visuals in the pages of this book. Nahuelpan’s figure rendering and storytelling are exceptional and his talent really shines when the action kicks in. Colorist Tyler Boss impressed me as well. Boss chooses a palette that is perfectly suited to a book about a California plunged into depair. He skillfully uses hues of browns, tans, and reds which evoke the dried out feel of Southern California in the throes of summertime.
In the end Calexit is an impressive addition to a roster of books that Black Mask has been pumping out over the past several years. With books like Black, We Can Never Go Home, and, now, Calexit Black Mask continues to be a publisher that is putting out impressive material that discerning comic fans should be seeking out. Black Mask is on the rise and books like Calexit are the reason why.