The end of this issue prints a two-page interview of creator Jonathan Hickman by Erik Sternberger and Dustin Davis of Comicbloc.com. It’s an interesting article for two reasons. First, it’s interesting because Hickman is very thoughtful about his graphical influences, talking in great depth about where he got the graphical ideas that he delineates in his comic. Secondly, it’s interesting because the whole interview talks about graphics and presentation, and not about the rather complex and intense story that he’s presenting. Maybe I’m being oversensitive, or prejudging something that will become clear as the series moves to its end, but it makes me wonder: is Hickman more interested in the presentation than the story?
You may legitimately ask if it matters if Hickman cares more about the presentation than the content of Nightly News. After all, not only does the comic look completely unique, but it also has a unique story. How many comics have brought readers inside a deranged cult that is determined to assassinate members of the media whom they think are biased, in an attempt to help push the media to be responsible? Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question, and it’s kind of absurd on its face. This comic is completely unique in every level, and it’s from that uniqueness that it gets its power.
But I can’t help but be left with the “Authority” question. You remember when Authority was the hottest thing in comics, right? Five or six years ago, Millar and Quitely presented the Authority as a crazy mix of drug-addicted, parallel-universe-riffing, utopian post-modern heroes who simultaneous commented on super-heroism and brought it to a new and higher level. Do you remember the manic thrill you got from reading the comic at the time? If you’re like me, it crossed your mind that this was the most outrageous and hilarious hero book ever, and that comics would never be the same again.
But reading those comics now feels just a bit passé. Now that the comic’s innovations have been integrated into comics’ general zeitgeist, it’s just not the same reading those original stories again. It’s not just that the flash of the new is gone. The problem is that without the flash, the sizzle isn’t quite as loud. The stories are just not as good in 2007 as they were in 2002. Sure, the comic was great at the time, but now that its ideas have been mined by other creators, Millar’s Authority isn’t the classic that it seemed at the time.
Which brings me back to The Nightly News. I can’t help but wonder how much of my reaction to this comic comes from a feeling that the comic is so unique, its uniqueness overwhelms the plot holes in the story. I find it massively hard to believe, for instance, that the murder of so many news reporters in such a short time wouldn’t cause massive public outrage. Heck, it seems to me that the very newsmedia that the Hand is attacking would be all over this story with its classic 24-hour blanket coverage. For another thing, it’s hard at times to tell whether the Hand is scary or pathetic or both. The Hand’s web hacker who pastes news anchors’ faces onto porn stars’ bodies isn’t scary as much as he’s just plain insipid.
Maybe it’s just a droop in the story in the middle of the arc, or maybe I’m just in a cranky mood, but even the big emotional moment of the issue felt a bit played out to me. I liked the graphic design a whole lot, though.