by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: After a first issue that went out of its way to show how drastically the world has changed in the not-too-distant future, Days of Hate 2 slows way down to emphasize just how normal the lives of its main characters are. This is every bit as terrifying as a country openly at war with itself. Issue 2 is also much more illustrative of the times in which we currently live. We don’t recognize ourselves as “in-crisis” because we can still call our parents and make plans to go to that lobster place with them on Wednesday. Writer Ales Kot and artist Danijel Zezelj double down on normalcy, shortening the narrative distance between “what if I was in this situation” and “I am in this situation.”
My favorite page in this issue, shows three of our main characters at peace. Amanda’s accomplice (who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been named yet), Amanda and Xing all experience these quiet, non-moments in their days.
We are, of course, learning a little bit about each character in these panels. Amanda’s accomplice kneels in prayer, while Xing seeks the solace of a nice cup of coffee in the comfort of her swanky apartment. Amanda herself is an interesting case — she just spent a whole page espousing the virtues of the shower beer, but when Zezelj makes a point of showing her in the shower, there’s no beer in the panel. It’s a small thing, the difference between performative relaxing and actual relaxing, and it grants the rest of the issue an uncanny realism.
So when Freeman asks to be reseated on the airplane because he’s a racist fuck, the reader’s stomach turns. He doesn’t use racial slurs or violence or anything that would get him ejected from society. Instead, he masks his hate as politeness. Zezelj’s acting here is impossibly good – check out the turn on the woman’s face when she realizes what’s going on (an how that’s reflected in reverse by Freeman’s perverse smirk).
Last month, I wrote about how ugly the first issue of this series is. This outing is significantly less ugly, insisting instead on the humanity of its players. But in dialing that ugliness back to recognizable levels, the seeming inevitability of hatred creeps into the pages. My heart almost stopped when Amanda checked the reaction to her attack on Twitter — she just killed a bunch of people and what she’s plugged into is how it played on social. That’s a gross fucking urge, but one we all know too well. Kot and Zezelj want us to see ourselves in these characters, our world in their world.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?