Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Night Hunters’ #1 (of 4), out December 16 from Floating World Comics.
THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘NIGHT HUNTERS’ #1 (of 4) IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Micky Rivera. I didn’t understand cyberpunk until I left the United States (for the first and only time so far) and visited a major city in a “developing country”. The term “developing country” means a country striving to meet the standards of economic prosperity of wealthier nations, but it actually seems to refer to lands that have been subject to countless instances of bullying and interference by more “developed” countries. When I made my trip in 2016, Bogota, Colombia was unlike any U.S. city I had been in before. At night there were more people out than I had ever seen on a normal night in NYC. Graffiti sometimes seemed to cover every inch of concrete. And there were some places where an Americano, even a Latino such as myself, just didn’t go at night.
This was around the time of the troubled peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels they had been fighting for decades. That conflict was the child of an even older war, dating back to the 1940s, between the wealthy (probably with the help of old Uncle Sam) and the poor—but that’s just too much to get into. In the midst of this actual war between the classes Bogota industrialized. Its buildings rose into the sky and its maze of steel and concrete took shape. At some point its denizens began painting stream-of-consciousness on the city walls.
Memories of this trip kept running through my head while I was reading Night Hunters #1 (of 4) by Alexis Zirrit and Dave Baker. Set in a dark and not-too-distant future version of Caracas, Venezuela, this book is a study in the worst possible timeline of a developing country, one where the state has its impoverished population in a chokehold. It’s absurdly nihilistic, brazenly violent, but Night Hunters also strikes at the root of the class conflict at the heart of any police state.
Night Hunter’s readers don’t know why the country is in the situation it’s in. All we know is that high-rise prisons tower above the slums—prisons with waiting lists, which make you wonder where the state keeps the prisoners who are waiting in line. Down in the slums below the scavenger economy is in full swing for the homeless population. Here, law enforcement has evolved beyond the need for subtlety, openly terrorizing and strong-arming the population for kicks. Of course we have the cyberpunk hallmarks: dark, filthy streets, pedestrians with mohawks and steel clamps for hands, and lots of wicked-looking tech goggles. Night Hunters takes those age-old tropes and makes them vital again through compelling visuals and great writing.
The decision to base this dystopia in a future iteration of Caracas, Venezuela is brilliant. Night Hunters wastes no time in making clear that this is a distinctly Latino hellscape with interspersed Spanish verbiage and lots of Latino-sounding names. Most interesting is the reference to yopo, an entheogenic substance used by indigenous people of the Caribbean and South America. In Night Hunters a drug by this name is the cash crop of the drug gangs that are at war against the police.
Night Hunters‘ colors pop with calculated garishness that reminds me of 1980s or even 1970s sci fi comics—those dark blue shadows with the splashes of yellow and red and magenta light. These are hallmarks of artist Alexis Zirrit and it works well for describing a world of such claustrophobic intensity as Night Hunters’. In service to that general vibe, the liberally applied inkwork lends the visual narrative lots of weight—it’s a good heavy look balanced by the pools of color. This book would have fit right in with the gang at 2000 AD.
It remains to be seen what sort of message about the technology, poverty, and the police state Night Hunters is going to deliver, but as of this issue it is driving steadily towards it in a really badass-looking, post-apocalyptic war machine. It has the perfect mix of cybernetic prosthesis, class warfare, and nihilistic gags, tempered by a clear desire to understand the present moment by means of genre. Setting the story in a developing nation that’s just recently been pushed through the gauntlet of industrial subterfuge makes me love it even more. I’m looking forward to keeping up with this one.
Floating World Comics / $4.99
Art by Alexis Ziritt.
Written by Dave Baker.
Letters by Robert Negrete.
8.5 out of 10
‘Night Hunters’ #1 (of 4) infiltrates comic shops on December 16. You can pre-order ‘Night Hunters’ directly from Floating World Comics now.
Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Night Hunters’ #1 (of 4), including a variant cover by Alexis Ziritt & Vanesa Del Rey, courtesy of Floating World Comics!