Dear, Ghost Factory. What Should I Read?
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
The American government has caved amongst a slew of outraged special interest groups and fringe parties resulting in the passing of the Clean Act, a Law that squanders free speech and relinquishes public control of the airwaves. This newfound amalgam of church and state is out to redesign the country, to rid itself of the horrors of a secular society and replace it with a God-Fearing foundation. No more will this twisted, leftist, be broadcast over your local television station, your stereos, your print media, effective today the government knows what is best for the American people and plan to deliver it to them pre-filtered, diluted, polished, edited, spliced, cut and wrapped in a Big Brother approved parcel. It’s been deemed time to usher in the New America.
Tune into Channel Zero to hear Jennie 2.5, a guerilla journalist heavily armed with knowledge that will allow her for a short time to hijack the airwaves and deliver messages of change, uprising, revolution and action to the people of the United States. A woman with many a discernable feature permanently inked on her skin, Jennie has taken up against this oppressive reality of her home and plans to organize a coup, wake the dead, rouse dissent and reclaim the media in the name of the American people. As she captures everyone’s attention she also encounters the repercussions of her attempt to raise awareness and spark a counter-attack. In a dystopian time of civilian police forces “The Cleaners”, Pro-government control and post-free speech Jennie will find that advocating individual empowerment, fighting for unfiltered media and existing in the so-called “free world” will be an immensely dangerous challenge.
Make them Listen.
Make them Understand.
From the genius speculative mind of Brian Wood (The Massive, DMZ, Local, Demo, Northlanders, Conan, X-Men) is birthed a vision of America once it’s been bullied into submission from fundamentalist organizations and lobbyists hoping to create a harmonious existence for all under their care and watch. First released as a five-issue mini series from Image comics, Channel Zero, Brian Wood’s first published comic work, has since spawned addition material in Channel Zero: Jennie One, The Couriers and Couscous Express where certain characters bleed over from their separate stories and books appearing peripherally in similar universes. Projects like the current Massive and the Vertigo series DMZ focus on very similar issues including dystopian futures (DMZ is the second American civil war where the demilitarized zone is basically a ruined New York), doomsday scenarios (The Massive takes place after global warming and other such environmental disasters have erupted) and ultimately very human, character driven deliveries. This area of story is where Brian Wood’s scripting and plotting shines. Heavily researched, vivid environment designs with a deep emphasis on realism and parallel event description that set his world building on a scale perhaps matched only by ‘Marvel’s Counter-X’ collaborator Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red, Planetary, Fell, Desolation Jones). Throughout the pages of Channel Zero are the first glimpses of Wood’s voice and ability for fiction that’s just as much entertainment as it is a warning.
Artistically Brian Wood’s work throughout the book is equally impressive, an obvious first creative pursuit in comics yet not in any way as a fault. More in the sense that his art is a disregard for any typical comic formatting rules or regulations and instead the work of someone testing the waters and experimenting freely without any guidance or filter. The style and depictions of this new world order are often dark and heavily shaded with sometimes as few as one small panel in a corner but the placement and tones are a truly unique creation. Someone being able to create uninhibited by editorial input is a strong point of Channel Zero and it as a result remains an incredibly unique, visual experience. Unfortunately Wood’s artistic pursuit have been few but the small portfolio of work is that of an important and original talent.
Now in a collected format from Dark Horse Comics that includes the prequel Jennie One with Becky Cloonan (Conan, Batman, American Virgin, Demo), a design collection called Public Domain and assorted rarities and extras, Channel Zero is an essential in the collection of any fan of Wood’s work and those looking to expose themselves to the myriad of worlds in his conceptual arsenal.