Greetings, United States of Fucking Bullshit.
I’m a big believer in books coming to you at the right time. Lucky for us, Boom! Studios’ “Evil Empire” starts right where we are, but 25 years later.
“Evil Empire” examines the beginning of apocalypses, how we get to the point of no return in our society. We’ve been obsessed with this throughout popular culture, from reality-based scenarios like “Armageddon” to “The Walking Dead,” which is zombies. (While I do believe the zombies will happen at some point, we have to accept the fact that it’s probably not going to be the first thing that tries to take us all out, it’ll be the offset of a second or third thing.) “Evil Empire” is writer Max Bemis’ way of examining how we prioritize personal choice/opinion over morality and humanity in search of some sort of perverted freedom for all.
It’s not exactly fascism – think more terrifying.
“Evil Empire” starts with Reese Greenwood, a woman of color and underground rapper spitting your politically conscious, social commentary bars. She meets a rising politician who takes to her and her message of calling out the government and how hypocritical the current administration is. When the current president’s wife is found by their daughter in the laundry room with a knife through her back, the country mourns. At the funeral, the president cackles as he confesses to killing his wife because she was horrible to their daughter and starts touting this, ‘Was I supposed to sit back and watch or allow my wife to treat my child this way?,’ ‘What is ethical justice,’ reasoning/defense. People love it, and society devolves into this constant question of right versus wrong.
Things get more and more ridiculous at that point. Think a 24-hour purge, where people are killed and brutalized, there’s public sex, a verifiable open public free-for-all under the guise of freedom and moral standing. But of course, the concept of humanity gets pushed to the back. A lot of the propaganda in the book is parallel to what is happening in the country now, which is astounding with the way that America continually jumps the shark every news hour.
The most recent paperback trade of “Evil Empire” was printed in August 2016, four months before Darth Cheeto assumed the presidency. Reading it feels too close to watching 45’s current presidency dismantle our idea of Shock and Awe. I thought of EE when I watching Steven Miller and Jake Tapper’s interview on CNN. I could almost hear Trump supporters cheering in the background as Miller talked over and through the questions. You could see how impressed he was with himself and his ability to keep talking as this man kept trying to get him to actually answer his question all over his smug ass face.
Problem is, Miller sounds like an idiot. I woulda been impressed if he’d at least tried to say something that made sense or was rooted in any kind of factual detail. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t have been impressed at all.
“Evil Empire” gives me the same hollow dread. By trade two, the absurdity is sitting next to me helping to flip pages.
We live in a time where the president has tweeted nuclear threats to a volatile dictator over social media and the prevailing conspiracy around the First Lady is that she’s been replaced with a paid look-alike. “Evil Empire” grounds me in what’s happening here in America while the fictional story itself ratchets me up into the good kind of nauseous, but only for a few seconds. Mostly just because it’s not happening here. Though, if the arc of EE is any indication, we may not be far off.