I read this. It's definitely a Howard Chaykin book, and it sure has a lot of "controversial" material in there, but that's what it seems to be designed for.
I must say that it at least has a storyline. I've read a few political comics where it's just the writer spewing forth his or her views with the artist drawing stuff that kinda goes along with it.
Have you read the book, Jeff?
I have. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything Chaykin does. (This is neither here nor there, but I’m considering pulling all of his post-American Flagg! work out of the sundry boxes it is in and putting it together in a single box.) I almost missed this one because I was looking for the title “Divided States” but the logo emphasizes “Hysteria.” This series flew into my radar a few weeks ago when I read about it in Comic Shop News. I had assumed it was a reactionary series in response to what’s been going on in this country since last November, but as the linked essay makes clear, he was shopping it around as early as March 2016. Looking at the last pages of the final issue of Midnight of the Soul (Chaykin’s most recent series prior to The Divided States of Hysteria), sure enough, it’s advertised there.
I like story as much as I would expect to like Chaykin’s own mix of action, jazz, pulp adventure, science fiction and sex, but I found what I liked most about the issue was this essay, which I was happy to discover exixts online so that I could link it. (I also very much enjoyed Ken Bruzenak’s feature about the amount of lettering work which goes into a single panel.) This series, as well as Roger Waters’ recent (June 2) album, Is This the Life We Really Want, have really tapped into the zeitgeist of the current political landscape.
I liked it as well. It's scary, but really good.
It's definitely one that I need to read again, which I almost never do.
The art is some of the best I have ever seen from Chaykin--detailed in some places and simply plopped down onto the page in other places. This is certainly on purpose, and I think it's a nice touch.
After reading the essay I really don't want to read the comic. I get enough of this from the news media every day.
Me, I find it cathartic.
Chaykin's plots are usually so complex that I often "lose the story" following them on an issue-to-issue basis. At some point I always need to start over, or just wait until the series ends (or tradewait) then read it all at once. Yesterday (with the help of Wikipedia) I compiled a list of his post-AF! work.
Power & Glory
Batman: Dark Allegiances
Challengers of the Unknown
City of Tomorrow
Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage
Midnight of the Soul
He also had a "Solo" issue as well as a serial in Dark Horse Presents.
Here's the latest press release, which is posted on the Facebook page:
CHAYKIN’S THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA SPARKS INDUSTRY CONVERSATION
First issue rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand
PORTLAND, OR, 06/13/2017 — Image Comics is pleased to announce that Howard Chaykin (AMERICAN FLAGG!, SATELLITE SAM) has turned the industry on its head once again with his latest, THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA. The first issue of this searing dystopian story will be rushed back to print to keep up with overwhelming demand.
“A fictional dystopia selling out in the midst of a real life slow motion societal collapse—how much more thrilled and grateful could I possibly be at this?” said Chaykin.
Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics added: “The history of comics isn’t exactly filled with political thrillers, but Howard Chaykin made his name in the ’80s with American Flagg!, and The Divided States of Hysteria is very much in the same mold. One of the things I’ve always admired about Howard’s work is his unflinching reluctance to pull any punches, and this series about a society, not on the verge, but in the midst of collapse is no different. If you’re looking for escapism, this probably isn’t the book for you, as its warts-and-all depiction of the modern world reveals it to be an ugly place, governed by hatred, fear, and intolerance. Rooted in the worst aspects of reality, this is indignant, rebellious fiction, designed to make readers both angry and uncomfortable, but more than that, it’s intended to provoke thought about how and why things have reached a state where the tools for progress—discourse, understanding, cooperation—are shunned in favor of treating anyone with an opposing viewpoint as an enemy combatant. If The Divided States of Hysteria prompts just a single productive conversation about the present state of our society, then it has succeeded in its goals and is a story worth sharing.”
In THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA, an imminent terrorist attack threatens to destabilize an already deeply troubled America barely beginning to recover from a profound national trauma that has shattered the nation.
THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA #1, 2nd printing (Diamond Code MAY178007), THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA #2, Cover A (Diamond Code MAY170679), and THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA #2, Cover B "Images of Tomorrow" (Diamond Code APR178246) will be available on Wednesday, July 12th. The final order cutoff deadline is Monday, June 19th.
The Dark Horse Presents serial Chaykin did was called Marked Man, and has been released as a trade paperback.
Ah, thanks. I'll add it to my list.
And thanks for posting the press release, Cap.
ISSUE TWO: Issue #1 began with the assassination of an unpopular President of the United States and most of his cabinet in an aborted coup d’etat. It ended with seven women, apparently pregnant, setting off miniature nuclear devices buried inside plastic bagged biotoxin stuffed in their wombs in midtown Manhattan, virtually destroying New York City. In issue #2 things go from bad to worse as “the domino effect of the destruction of the United States’ financial infrastructure metastasizes into a cascading sh*tstorm that rushes through the country and the world like an incurable, unstoppable cancer with no clear indication of an end to its destruction.”
No, this is not the “feel-good” story of the year. Frank Villa, the CIA agent blamed for failing to prevent this terrorist attack sets about assembling a team of criminals, introduced in the first issue. The set-up reminds me a bit of Miller and Gibbons’ Martha Washington, but the execution is similar to Chaykin’s own Challengers of the Unknown (still fresh in my mind after reading it last week).
The letters page (“Undivided Attention”) is a bit of a sh*tstorm as well, as readers (I hesitate to call most of them “fans”) react to issue one. Chaykin’s editorial essay is directed primarily at those who don’t like The Divided States of Hysteria: don’t read it. The editor who assembled the letters page assures us that Chaykin himself has read none of the letters.
The letters page of issue #3 remains as controversial (and divisive) as the story itself. In this issue, Chaykin, the editor and the readers discuss the original cover for issue #4, which would have depicted a hate crime, specifically “a brown-skinned man hanging by a noose, with his genitals mutilated and a racial slur on his chest” (see here for the image itself) before Image decided to run another cover in its place.
(Also see the issue #3 LOC page for a missive from a certain citizen of Earth-J.)
Between this and Secret Empire over at marvel America seems to be a pretty horrible place.
Yesterday I spent an hour reading about the controversy surrounding the original cover for issue #4. (I started with the article I linked above.) I usually regret reading internet discussions (other than those on this board), but the folks on both sides of the issue seemed to be well-behaved and their arguments well-considered. I took all of that into reading issue #3's story last night. I'm still processing it, really.