Stop 'The Recount'
| Scout Comics debuts disturbingly dystopian drama of democracy with 2020 election.|
The official release date of The Recount #1 was November 11, 2020: A week after election day and the official start of when states began certifying the election results, a day after Donald Trump and his supporters picked up the mantra of "Stop the Count," and just about a year after the wheels were put in motion for Trump's first impeachment.
These are important contextual details, because the issue, announced in October 2020, opens with an impeached U.S. President leaving office for war crimes. Except before he can finish his farewell address, he is assassinated by an insider who is part of a massive conspiracy cult, calling themselves "The Masses," that is determined to bring vengeance to every person who enabled the failed president to get into office. That means killing every member of his campaign team and his administration, every representative in the electoral college, and every person who voted for him.
With its political campaign theme, creepy Halloween masks, and an anarchist declaration that it's effectively open hunting season on millions of voters, the first two issues of The Recount feel like a reboot of The Purge: Election Year.
The premise would, therefore, be tired and trite - except for the fact that it's so real, which makes it creepy, and disturbing, and uncomfortable, and terrifying... for all the wrong reasons. In its way, it tells the story of what might have happened on January 6, 2021 when conspiracy theorists, disenchanted voters, and people who felt disenfranchised from the government stormed the Capitol to kidnap and kill the elected representatives they blamed for their plight.
The Masses is able to target voters based on their own social media boasts about support of the president, through the aid of a foreign country's digital hijacking of the election, and through the ball caps and flags the dead president's supporters displayed on their bodies and homes. (Any of this sound familiar?)
Leaders of The Masses are Washington, DC insiders - members of the Secret Service, the CIA, the Pentagon. This appears be "ripped from the headlines," as Law & Order promos might say, and the alt-right conspiracy organization Q-Anon's alleged leaks from high-ranking military officers and high-level FBI analysts. The stand-out difference in The Recount is that The Masses seems to be a liberal organization, targeting a president who got America into a needless war (à la George W. Bush with Iraq) and irresponsibly cost the lives of thousands of Americans (à la Donald Trump with COVID-19).
The saving grace of The Recount being something more than a bloody grab at sensationalism and exploitation of real-world troubles, is found in the book's main protagonist - the acting president and and her Secret Service agent Bree Bartel offer strong female characters who are not only fighting for survival but also navigating their careers in male-dominated fields.
The writing and artwork are captivating and compelling, creating, as Bleeding Cool described a "read that feels much like a film caught on paper" - but that is partly because it offers a movie we've already seen repeatedly in "The Purge" franchise and, more frighteningly, on the nightly news. In this heated political climate, The Recount may just add fuel to the fire.
~Christina M. Knopf
19 February 2021