Republication: Radical's 'After Dark #3' and Media-Frenzied Politics

Life In A Time Of Hope: Writer Peter Milligan warns against using hope as political currency in the sublime After Dark #3.

It is easy to get lost in the opulence of After Dark's amazing construction of its sci-fi world. But at its heart, the book holds a vital commentary on the media-frenzied political landscape.

After Dark #3

Publisher: Radical
Length: 50 pages
Writer: Peter Milligan, Leonardo Manco
Price: $4.99
Publication Date: 2011-03

The thing to remember is, that the bullets were in Dorwan Stoddard's back.

It's been hard not to get angry reading After Dark, the series written by comics veteran Peter Milligan about a world created by filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, and Hollywood action hero, Wesley Snipes. This was always the blasted world we should have seen in the sequels to 1999's the Matrix. The slow, brooding atmosphere, the climatological catastrophe, the implosion of human society, the rallying around a single, last-stand city. And not angry at After Dark directly, but angry at everything else. Angry at the idea that here in my hands was a piece of perfected science fiction. A handheld ultimate vision of what sci-fi could always have been, always promised to have been. Almost everything prior to After Dark glowed with a kind of nuclear radiation of being just a little less than it promised.

And After Dark glowed.

Milligan made the story shine with a true and clear color of its own. His gift lay in marrying those small and personal dramas, Brood and General Lau, Omar and the merchant who betrayed him to the Solar City police, the crew aboard Brood's 'ship of fools', with the seemingly in canvas of a 50-page single issue. The twist in the tale then, when reading the concluding issue, is how seamlessly Milligan is able to move into a condition of rapidly progressing events.

The story has always been easy to follow. In a post-climatological-apocalypse world, humanity has ensconced itself in a last-hope outpost, Solar City. But now, internal dissent threatens to destroy Solar City itself, and with it, all post-Industrial Revolution technology. The stakes are high. The military junta in control of Solar City appoints Colonel Brood to gather a team of military and civilian operatives (including the Bedouin Omar whose people can 'read' the newly weaponized darkness of the skies and navigate thereby) to track down Angel, the one woman who can bring peace to the city.

Angel herself is a populist icon, beloved by all factions in the city. Her face is everywhere. Should she ever return to Solar City, humanity's continued existence would be secure. Issue 3 is the story of Brood, Omar and the rest of the crew's successful location of Angel and their collective return to the city. But more than that, it is the story of Angel's reinstallation into the life of Solar City.

After Dark is so wholly, beguilingly seductive, that it is hard not to find your Introduction To Philosophy roots, pickup up a copy of Plato's Republic and read Angel as the Philosopher-King who left the Cave only to return in the hopes of liberating her people. But this move is cheap, and easy, and wrong. And it's not worthy of you, and it's not worthy of the clear work done by Milligan to comment on the political situation of today.

The thing to remember is, that when Jared Loughner began his shooting spree in January this year… the thing to remember is, the bullets ended up in Dorwan Stoddard's back. Not because he was a coward, not because he was attempting to escape or to hide, but because, in the midst of the chaos, he rolled over and protected his wife.

Writing for TIME, David von Drehle makes a clear connection between the actions of the madmen, and the political environment of perpetual hype. "Right or left, their genius is for dramatizing trivial things", von Drehle reminds us, "there is no other way than to remain outraged 24/7". Von Drehle is writing about the political message machine, both left and right that retunes the world around us as a constantly politically-charged landscape.

When Angel returns, it feels like a time of hope again. But things quickly get darker. Milligan's pen is direct firmly against the use of hope as a political currency. Because the dark side of that, and arguably the logical extension, is the dramatizing of the trivial. And it is with that dramatizing, that bullets fly.

After Dark #3 is $5 for 50 pages of story with gorgeous art lovingly supplied by the suspiciously skillful Leonardo Manco. But for the measured, somber, meaningful meditation on the state of the political landscape, $5 seems like too little to pay. After Dark's story is wonderful, but at its heart, its political commentary is so clear, I want to pay more.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.