Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: Hacktivity #1
Greetings Evil Geeks! The Indie Spotlight burns bright yet again today as we bring you a review of a recent submission to the Evil Geek E-Mail Hotline. With paranoia over government snooping and overreaching authority reaching astronomical heights, writer Ovi Demetrian Jr. and artist James Whynot bring us a tale of a hacker facing down a 30 year prison sentence for what is being touted by protesters as a “victimless crime”. Will he go quietly into a hellish nightmare of a prison sentence? Let’s hope not, because 30 years of lifting weights and reading doesn’t sound like a very exciting read!
The story of Hacktivity follows a kid named Shawn Harris. To put things bluntly, at the current moment Shawn is facing a complete shitstorm in that the book begins with him being found guilty of a hacking related felony. Outside the courthouse as Shawn awaits his fate, a crowd of vociferous protesters are calling for Shawn’s release. Before we find out how long he’ll be going away for, the book flashes back to Shawn’s arrest at the hands of a fully armed SWAT team. As Shawn is sitting in his apartment one night, he glances out of his window and catches site of the police breaking down the door of his neighbor’s apartment, storming in, then putting the innocent man in handcuffs at gunpoint. In the ensuing fracas, Shawn overhears the police announce that they are their to arrest Shawn, not realizing that they have the wrong guy. Shawn hurriedly shoots off a message to the other hackers in his community and tries to make a run for it. Shawn’s not wanted for a violent felony, he’s not wanted for dealing drugs or supporting terrorism, he’s wanted for stealing then releasing classified documents to the public that detail how the FBI has been spying on Americans. After he’s viciously hunted down, we see the media circus begin to build a tent of sensationalism around Shawn’s case. The details of the case and the public reaction are show to us through various interviews, tumblr posts, and Tweets, which I thought added a sense of realism to the world of the story. Even though Shawn is the main focus of the tale, the portrayal of social media’s role in the events helps flesh out the world and give it it’s own personality. The reaction on the internet mainly supports Shawn, while the older types of media (represented by TV News in this case), seem to mainly be echoing the talking points of the government authorities prosecuting Shawn. One little detail that I thought was a great touch was at the end of the panels showing a local news station report talking about the case, the reporter signs off by announcing that when they come back from commercial, there will be a special report on “The Hacker Threat”, which seems dead on when it comes to how the story would be handled by a local news station. Instead of intelligently and calmly discussing the issue, their main objective would be to scare viewers by warning them of some non-specific menace with a low probability of ever happening to the average citizen.
Among Shawn’s supporters is a group of hackers who decide that they aren’t going to be content letting their hero rot in jail. The group first beings attacking the powers that be in terms of Shawn’s prosecution. The judge, whom it’s implied has a bias against hackers when it comes to sentencing and the district attorney are each targeted. The Judge has her home address and phone number revealed to the public and the DA has a video of him basically beating off on Chatroullete stolen from his computer, then released to the media. The authorities however won’t be deterred by the personal attacks and press on with Shawn’s prosecution, so the hackers up the ante a bit. They pose as police officers and manage to break Shawn out of prison during a transfer from the jail to the courthouse. I liked this unexpected turn of events, but at the same time I could have used some more detail behind the brazen abduction. Who are these hackers? How did they get their hands on not only police uniforms, but an entire police car? And most importantly, how did they manage to blend into the police motorcade and drive off with possibly the most famous felon in the world at that point? Maybe we’ll get some backstory in future issues, but that’s the one part of Issue #1 that I thought should have been addressed more.
Overall, I really dug the story, so I’m giving it C-Mart’s seal of approval (the walrus of approval got a hold of some bad mackerel, so he’s off this week). The black and white art by James Whynot gives the book a gritty feel, almost like you’re reading an underground ‘zine that some hall monitor at school might snatch away from you at any moment (ANOTHER example of the man coming down on our freedoms!). Hacktivity is definitely a story reflective of our current times, with a story that closely parallels the real life examples of Pvt. Chelsea Manning and the new expatriated Edward Snowden. The story brings up a ton of moral questions that not enough people are asking themselves today. Is it right to imprison someone for releasing documents from a publicly owned and funded agency to the public? Technically we own that information, we have just as much right to is as any government official. On top of that, is throwing someone in jail, who hasn’t hurt or killed anyone, for 30 years really justice? Are we really better off when we trade our freedoms for “security”? If my description of the story tickles your comic loving funnybone, then head on over to hacktivitycomic.com where you can get more info on Hacktivity and even check new panels from the comic every day! That’s all the comic book reviewing C-Mart’s got for you today, but as always the Evil Geeks will be back soon with an all new Evil Geek Book Report!
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Posted on September 19, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Geekology, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Reports, Geeks, Hackers, Indie Comics, Indie Spotlight, James Whynot, nerds, Ovi Demetrian Jr. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.