By Aleš Kot, Danijel Žeželj, Jordie Bellaire, Aditya Bidikar, Tom Muller
Entertainment is sometimes classified as a means of escape, usually from either the harshness or monotony of ordinary life. But it’s clear that some forms take clear influence from reality, creating whole worlds that might feel a little close to home. Whether there’s a message to be learned or a level of enjoyment is entirely up to the tone of the story. While little of either can be found in Days of Hate #1, an issue with some exposition-heavy dialogue, it does have moments of quiet beauty and an indication of a greater intent.
Days of Hate takes place in 2022, a time where the United States has suffered from years of division and violence. Appropriately named “America First,” the first chapter’s influences are clear, making it hard not to compare it to other series that have cropped out of recent political events. While something like Calexit was more of a fun underdog story, Days of Hate is content being more grim when it comes to its plot. Righting a wrong doesn’t feel like a huge victory, where those who are punished are just one of many hateful groups out there. The world on display is a frightening worst-case scenario with elements that seem only a little escalated from something seen on the news. It’s clear that the world has much more potential for deeper meaning in the future conflict between its two leads.
Looking within this issue, though, the execution leaves a little to be desired particularly with the presentation of the characters. Their identities and personal goals are sorely lacking, making them much less relatable to the reader. Some panels are filled with dialogue that feel like they’re trying to get across information as quickly as possible rather than portray grounded people. There’s a lot of telling rather than showing in these interactions, which is odd when taking into account how the scenes without dialogue do this so well.
Danijel Žeželj’s art is perfect for the book’s darker tone. Environments are covered in encroaching shadows that provide a unique aesthetic, with characters that feel as if they’ve been spray-painted similar to political propaganda. Some smiles have a quality that reminds you of Big Brother, an over-expressive ruse to the threatening groundwork underneath. The best work in the issue comes from Jordie Bellaire’s colors, which are always astounding. Whether it be in the light of the fading sun, dominated by a neon glow, or within the bright walls of an interrogation room, each scene has its own style that would be heralded in a Hollywood movie. A particular two-page spread is worth the price of the issue itself, already an early contender for some of the year’s best art.
While not the most insightful issue, Days of Hate is still a beautiful book with room to live up to its potential. It offers a more serious look at the fears of today’s world without being over-the-top. Its biggest fault lies in a debut that feels more like a prologue than a first chapter. Luckily, the indication that the series will ramp up makes this one of the more interesting titles to keep track of.