By Ben Snyder
Days of Hate #4 continues the series’ hot streak. Writer Aleš Kot and artists Danijel Žeželj and Jordie Bellaire continue to pump out one of the more harrowing and thought-provoking stories this year. Kot has made it stupidly obvious how politically driven this entire tale is as it preys on the fear many United States citizens had after the most recent presidential election. However, this series has succeeded more so due to Kot’s characterization of its core protagonists/antagonists and Žeželj’s art style that makes everything seems not quite right.
Most of this chapter is based around Freeman’s surprise arrival at Huan’s parent’s house. Kot is masterful in his use of tension and suspense during this conversation. We know the power Freeman holds in this instance as he could destroy the elderly couple and ruin Huan’s life, but instead, he is polite, courteous, and saccharine. It reminds me of something from a holocaust film in which the Nazi official would enter a house and act charming towards the family even though he knows there are Jews hidden in the attic. Of course, in the end, he would callously kill the hidden family and Freeman carries that same cold, callous lethality in this scene.
Kot’s use of dialogue in this entry is exceedingly peculiar. While the two scenes involving Freeman in the family home and then outside talking to Huan are almost too dialogue heavy, the rest of the chapter is almost without sound. Instead, after a brief check in with Amanda and Arvid, we are treated to a series of barren panels depicting the state of the world and it is exceptionally creepy. While I love Kot’s dialogue for the most part in this series (sometimes he can be a bit too heavy-handed) it’s been his scenes of silence that have really stood out. They are masterfully placed and highlight the themes he wants to be seen.
Despite the fear and gravitas that Freeman carries, I find it remarkable that Kot still is willing to humanize him a bit during the scene with Huan outside. I find his plea to Huan begging for information and apologizing for the current situation strikingly honest.
Danijel Žeželj and Jordie Bellaire’s art is fantastic throughout the issue. Žeželj experiments a lot with panel layout during the house scene drawing obvious allusions to 1984 in certain panels and playing with perspective and character locations in the scene itself. Bellaire’s colors do a tremendous job of bleeding from the characters to the environment creating a sense that this world is invading our characters and turning them toxic or malevolent. But as stated before the true standout scenes are the ones depicting the world in total silence. One sequence in particular is when Freeman leaves and Žeželj has a sequence of Huan’s neighbors playing soccer on the front lawn. When the child in the sequence falls down he then smiles to the reader with a disturbingly fictitious grin. It’s the murky uncertainty that Žeželj’s style affords and allows and Bellaire balances the light and dark colors perfectly in order to distort a wholesome scene into one of great unease.
At first I was afraid Days of Hate would be a tad gimmicky by using the tumultuous election and post election politics as a platform for vitriol and hate without understanding. But writer Aleš Kot and artists Danijel Žeželj and Jordie Bellaire continue to imbue so much love and detail in this world and characters that it is apparent they have bigger and better things in store. Days of Hate #4 is an exceptional indicator of this trend.
Days of Hate #4