Hacktivist #4 (Comics Review)

For a contemporarily relevant comic to be one of the surprise hits of the year is something that I got to watch in action this year with the Alyssa Milano-created Hacktivist mini-series from Archaia Black Label, formerly Archaia and now an imprint of Boom Studios. Working with writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, Alyssa Milano created a setting where hackers take advantage of an ongoing revolution in Tunisia to get things moving towards a better outcome. But then the US government gets involved and things get really messy. Suffice to say, the first three issues have been really good.

The fourth issue, released very recently, wraps up this mini-series, and I have to say that this is a bittersweet ending. The conclusion satisfies on an emotional level, but I’m sad to see that this story is over. For now. The conclusion is somewhat open-ended and there is room for more stories in the future, but in the meanwhile, I think that the writers do a fairly good job of resolving the various character arcs and the story arc too, while the artists do a good job once again.

Hacktivist 04

The fourth issue takes place some time after the events of the previous issue, where the leader of the revolution for a new and better Tunisia was mercilessly killed by those in power. Now, with Beya dead, Ed and Sirine have the monumental task of continuing on the revolution in the fallen leader’s name and making sure that what he envisioned does indeed come about for his people. But it doesn’t stop there. We are talking here about two men, Ed and Nate, who created a global social media service and expedited the Tunisian revolution. Of course things are going to go global in the end and this is indeed a fit stage for that, this conclusion to the entire story arc.

The issue shows off all the characters as they have been from day one. Ed acts like a jerk but with a good heart, Sirine is dedicated to her people and the idea of the revolution and freedom for all, Nate is a brilliant counter-genius who understands control, and Agent Ori is a true product of the US government’s methods of control and deception and power. Each character is done justice in this issue and together they take the story forwards even as events move towards yet another gut-wrenching finale that changes the status quo of everything.

The socio-political relevance of this issue, and even the entire series cannot be mentioned enough. In the age of drone strikes, intelligence cover-ups, unauthorised national and international surveillance and more, this issue and series really strike a chord because it shows how far things can go and what those in power can and will do to stay in power. Sure, at some point Nate and Ed come across a bit as infallible, irritatingly so, but I still enjoyed the story here for what it was, and what it promises to show us. And that, I think, has power.

Personally, I think that this story could have been told in a couple more issues, with characters getting more breathing room to tell their own stories and so that the writers could explore the story more as well. But sadly, not to be. I’m not too broken up about it though because this series was good while it lasted, and I’ll take that over not having it at all. Hacktivist as a series is not just relevant to us today, it is also more because it has a message, a grandiose one yes, but a message nonetheless: that those in power should never be allowed to have too much of it and that the real power is always with the people themselves.

For artists Marcus To, David Cutler, Ian Herring and Deron Bennett, this issue is their final swansong for this series, just as much as it is for the writers and for the creator. And they go out in style. In the earlier pages, the visual design for Ed and Sirinie seems different than it has been in the previous issues and that threw me off at first, but later on the art finds it groove and starts getting better. Every moment of this issue after that opening couple of pages is great, and I loved as the story reached its conclusion.

The final twist, it is a bit nebulous, but I liked what it seemed to portend and I’ll take that for now.

Rating: 9/10

More Hacktivist: #1, #2, #3.

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Posted on May 19, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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