This is the message repeated ad infinitum throughout Channel Zero.
In a world very similar to ours, in the late 90s, America is a silently oppressed country. A place where personal liberties are exchanged for a false sense of security.
Jennie is a teenager that fights against media censorship and freedom of speech. She will leave her mark, not only on America, but also on the world. Though pirate broadcasting and revolutionary messages Jennie 2.5 reawakens the spark that lives deep inside every one and drives us to be free.
How is it?
|So it seems|
Jennie 2.5 fights a lone fight against the established power of the United States of America that rules with merciless censorship and an iron grip on the media. This is all made possible by the Clean Act. The Clean Act is Channel Zero's personification of the usual suspects when it comes to sci-fi oppressive regimes. "Its for your good", "Its for your safety" is all that's needed in order to kill freedom of speech in exchange for a false sense of security.
Brian Wood writes in the commentaries that unlike most of his fellow creators he isn't ashamed of his first work. On the contrary he is proud of it. A sign of it is the fact that he has been revisiting Channel Zero several times over the years.
And its not about creating a massive Universe that can last for years of storytelling. Its not about creating a book for the masses. Its all about passing a message. A message that something is wrong with the way the world is. A message that its our, the people, responsibility to intervene. A message that its no ok to just accept the Status Quo as it is without questioning it, without thinking about it.
Channel Zero has a bit of Punk, a dash of anarchic and a table spoon of revolutionary in it. And that makes for a great recipe. A recipe for a story that is completely outside of the norm and that was written to pass a message, to leave the reader with something more than just a story on his/her's mind when its all done.
Becky Cloonan's art is, for the lack of a better word, unique. Becky presents the reader with a very interesting array of contrasts between black and white (almost no grays or any other color). Its unique because it presents B&W art in a fashion I've never seen before (or since). Its not only unique, but its also gorgeous. The characters and the backgrounds alternate between well defined silhouette and masterfully impressionistic art.
Its one of those WYSIWYG books. You look at the cover (any of them) and that is what you're going to get in the inside pages.
|The making of the Clean Act|
Channel Zero The Complete Collection brings together everything there is about Channel Zero, form the original story to the prequel Jennie One graphic novel. The comics, the college assignments, Brian's commentary, all the regime propaganda adds that were put in the original comics to mimic traditional comics add placement. Everything is collected except some minor texts and drafts Brian admits to have lost somewhere in time and space. This is as close to a complete edition as there is.
This is a very good book. Not only for the story but the whole package. The art is unique, the story is compelling even if you're no longer (or not yet) in the irreverent and revolutionary mind set that Jennie 2.5 is in.
The thematic is a timeless one. Even now all over the world the freedom of speech is being attacked under the coat of political stability and the safety of the people. Jennie 2.5 lived in an alternative world, but she might as well have lived in ours.
With that out of the way, Channel Zero is not propaganda. No more so than 1984, A Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Logan's Run, V for Vendetta or so many other classic sci-fi / dystopian stories out there.
Channel Zero The Complete Collection might not be the easiest book to read, but it tells some great stories. Its also a cool book to look at and awesome looking in your shelf.
Publisher: Dark Horse
Authors: Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan
Originally Published at Reading Graphic Novels http://readinggraphicnovels.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-channel-zero-complete-collection.html