The Best Comic About America Came Out In 2015 [Re-Run]

Back in 2015, I wrote a review of DC Comics’ Prez relaunch, for my other family, Nerds On Earth. In that review, I called the comic, by writer Mark Russell and artist Ben Caldwell, “brilliant,” “gorgeous,” and “funny, poetic, and heartfelt.” I went on to say that

Prez is also mean. It’s “Hunter S. Thompson going after Nixon” mean. It points fingers. It names names. It’s a raw, unflinching indictment of the current American mood, from politics to entertainment, and it demands accountability in a way that wouldn’t be out of place in one of the more serious Daily Show monologues. Prez depicts Congress as a bunch of whiny children nestled comfortably in the pockets of big business, drone pilots as fat jocks who kill children, news outlets as brainless puppets, and the “intelligence” community as cheerful sadists. 

I was a fan.

At the time, I was focused on comparing the 2015 Prez with the 1978 Joe Simon version, which, among other things, featured a legless Dracula:

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I also spent a few pixels discussing how strange it felt to have a comic so pointed published by one of the more conservative outlets like DC. At the time, I couldn’t have known that Prez was going to turn out to be the best election commentary of 2016. Looking back, it’s almost eerie how well it predicted the major talking points. From an election riddled with hacks…

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An actual border wall…

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And unqualified cabinet picks…

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It’s almost as though Russell was seeing the future (why didn’t you warn us, man!?).

It’s not like Russell was breaking any news by saying politicians were dishonest and American healthcare is a shambles. It didn’t take a Nate Silver to know that whoever got the presidency in ’16 was going to inherit an angry world. But despite all the bleakly comic satire (the government is cancelling the food stamp program and outsourcing it to drones that shoot tacos! You can win a billion dollars on a game show by shooting yourself in the leg!),  it remains one of the most optimistic and clear-eyed roadmaps for anyone who wants to truly make America great–maybe not great again, but maybe great for the first time.

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That, right there, is the self-awareness and moral fortitude it’s going to take to save this country. It’s going to take somebody who can look at our country and see people, people just like the ones living in Syria and South Sudan and North Korea and Iran and China. Somebody who can see those people and the bright spark they carry inside them, the one that’s threatening to get choked out by fear and despair and hate, suppurating wounds on our souls, infecting our spirits. If this weird, beautiful experiment is going to survive, it needs somebody whose love for this country is matched only by their horror of what it’s become.

Anyway, it’s a great comic.



Categories: Pop Culture

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