Review: Prez #1-2
It is 2036, and it’s Presidential Election time! The political parties are lining up their candidates, and the corporations are throwing their money behind the ones they think they can best control. But with internet personalities to appease, and voting now allowed via Twitter, electing your man president isn’t in the bag anymore, especially when a video goes viral on social media, and your biggest opponent becomes 19-year-old Corn-Dog Girl.
Review: Prez #1-2
Written by Mark Russell, Art by Ben Caldwell
DC Comics, June-July 2015
32 pgs, $2.99
Prez is an updated version of a comic by the same name published by DC back in the 1970s. The new series shares the basic premise of a teenager being elected President of the United States, but that’s as far as the similarities go. Prez of the DCYou is a satire of the American political and corporate system with plenty of social commentary on the side.
Beth Ross is a normal teenage girl. She works at the Lil Doggie’s House of Corn Dogs and goes to the local college. She becomes an internet sensation when a training video at work goes awry and then goes viral online. But she doesn’t care about the sudden fame. She just wants to find a way to help her father, who is dying from a rare strain of the Cat Flu. Unbeknownst to her, she becomes president as the states vie for favors from the corporations to buy their votes for one of the two main candidates.
Beth is a great lead for this series. She is smart and hard working. She really cares about her father and is willing to try anything to get him the treatment he needs, including being on Double Dare Billionaire, a game show with outrageously dangerous challenges. She doesn’t pay any attention to her sudden internet fame, even after the election where she wins Ohio thanks to a push by a hack collective and an internet personality. She is as down-to-earth as you can get.
In stark contrast to her are the politicians and corporate CEOs who want to control and cash in on the election. The candidates Downey and Farmer try to campaign normally, but they must deal with the effects of social media, something they aren’t equipped to handle. When the election goes to the electoral college, the corporations begin a feeding frenzy, trying to convince states to give the candidates a majority by promising to move NASA and giving landlocked states a naval base and even an aquarium. The senators act like stereotypical teenage girls, lying on beds or couches and gossiping with one another. The CEOs, whose faces are hidden behind holographic company logos, decide they don’t care who wins, because they think they own both candidates and completely dismiss Beth, which becomes their biggest mistake.
Prez wears its satire on its sleeve. Each issue is chock full of pot shots taken at corporations and politics. In these first two issues, Beth’s story is intercut with the candidates trying to campaign on talk shows, election day commentary, and the electoral college feeding frenzy. The contrast works well, showing how grounded Beth is compared to the insanity around the election. Russell and Caldwell take on not only health care and food stamps but also social media, the internet, and even network news. You have to look at every panel, as there are visual jokes that punctuate the story as well as stand on their own. The ticker tape for the news program has some good stories, and I liked the farcical site “SickStarter” that Beth uses to try to raise money for her father’s medical treatment and the photo site “Hipstagram” that includes an “auto censor” for gestures.
Caldwell draws the characters with a more political cartoon-caricature style, further strengthening the satirical feel. The look and feel of the world is still grounded, with Beth still having to wear a goofy uniform for work, while wearable tech and holograms have become the norm, and everyone is online all the time. The color palette is filled with contrasting colors, like bright pink, turquoise and orange, for a look that feels completely different from almost anything else in DC’s line.
Prez is very much a series for older teens. There is nothing overly adult, but the social and political satire is something that older readers will appreciate, especially as we start our own election cycle. What really makes this series entertaining is that it puts everyone in its cross hairs and is more interested in pointing out the absurdities of our culture than trying to push an agenda. And it’s just a really fun read.
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About Lori Henderson
Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!
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