By Ben Snyder
After the election in 2016, it wasn’t much of a surprise that storytellers and artists would craft tales that reflect their fears and anxieties regarding its outcome. Many of these stories would indirectly comment on the political climate, substituting President Trump for a cartoonified, easily digestible version. Some even tackled the sex and gender politics through allegory that would inevitably be affected by the new president-elect. It is a surprise, however, that it has taken this long for one story to come that is so direct, haunting, and tangible. For this reason, Days of Hate #1 is certainly not for everyone- especially if you voted for Trump. And while not perfect, Days of Hate deserves to be applauded for the courage from both its contributors and Image Comics.
Writer Ales Kot taps into the collective feeling of paranoia and dread many US citizens felt after the election. Days of Hate is dark, scary dark. The story begins with two characters, Amanda and someone yet unnamed, investigating the remains of an underground queer party that was firebombed and desecrated with Swastikas. It’s not stated if these people are part of a police force or not or if simply on a mission for vengeance. This leads Amanda to go undercover at a local restaurant where all the Nazi’s eat. There are a couple of interesting hints dropped in this scene that points to a well thought out history. There may have been a civil war at a certain point, which explains why everything looks so war-torn.
But the true highlight of this book revolves around Huan Xing. The Special National Police Unit for the Matters of Domestic Terrorism picks up Huan Xing for unknown reasons. This unit has obvious parallels to Gestapo-like agencies. Her interrogator, Peter Freeman, makes your skin crawl with his propaganda. He actively argues for the existence of work camps and insists that Huan isn’t American, strictly Asian. And then we learn that Freeman isn’t even looking for Xing, but instead her ex-wife Amanda.
As stated in the introduction, Kot isn’t sugarcoating how much he detests our new president and those who voted for him. Everyone should hate Nazi’s. But some may get offended to see how portrays the average southern family. When Amanda is going through with her sting operation, the reader is shown a family, which Amanda’s alter ego has befriended. This family is not written well at all intentionally. They sound like an exaggeration of Fox News interviewees, if that is even possible. It doesn’t help that they look deformed and the youngest sun is running around the table playing with a handgun.
The art is as dark and haunting as the story. Danijel Žeželj’s line work is foreboding with his slanted architecture and distorted landscapes. His figures are equally deformed. Even when drawing “pretty” people like Peter Freeman, Žeželj adds menacing qualities to it. Jordie Bellaire’s colors only heighten the unease felt.
Days of Hate is not a perfect book. Sometimes, Kot can get a bit wordy in his speech bubbles and sometimes his characterization will be off and offend readers. Mostly, I can’t stress this enough, if you voted for Trump or maybe even lean conservative on some issues, this book isn’t for you. But if at any point since the election, you’ve felt afraid or unsure of the future; Days of Hate #1 will assure you that you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, and you should be afraid. Plus, it’s also a really good read.
Days of Hate #1