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Ryan Paul

What Rob Williams and Co. expose in this deftly written series is that power lies as far from the common man as is possible; it rests in the hands of the wealthiest elite.

Cla$$war Issues #1 - #3

Publisher: Com.X
Price: Cla$$War Issues #1 - #3 - PopMatters Comic Book Review
Writer: Rob Williams
Item Type: Comic
Contributors: Trevor Hairsine (Artists), Pencils and Inks. Len O'Grady (Artists), Colours. Eddie Deighton (Artists), Lettering. (Artists)

Chomsky in Pictures

Perspective and objectivity, two things it is nearly impossible to have about oneself. Luckily for the American people, across the Atlantic comes Com.X and Cla$$War.

Cla$$War provides some much needed perspective and objectivity about American society. There is a common misperception, some might say a willfully shared illusion, that power exists at the lowest level of our governmental system: the people. What Rob Williams and Co. expose in this deftly written series is that power lies as far from the common man as is possible; it rests in the hands of the wealthiest elite.

The six-part mini-series reveals, in exaggerated comic book form, the seats of power in American society. Multi-national corporations value profit over people; they wine, dine, and bully politicians into enacting beneficial legislation. When scandal erupts, our elected representatives rush about in a tizzy of buck passing and rear covering, foisting blame upon their underlings. The truly corrupt stay in power, with an ever rotating cast of flunkies trying to get a piece of the action, and shit really does roll downhill to the masses, who remain ignorant and desperately wanting to trust in government. And if all else fails, a little armed conflict serves up a healthy dose of tow-the-line style patriotism.

The bloody fight for justice, the war for democracy that Rob Williams offers us isn't the most appealing course of action, especially for those who would rather sit back and vegetate than risk upsetting the status quo. Hopefully, the juggernaut of globalisation and American power is not so far gone that activists cannot change the system for the better using peaceful means.

Rob Williams crafts a story that's 21st Century Aesop with the mentality of Gore Vidal. In a deft mix of allegory and realism, Cla$$War depicts the gaps in American society, gaps between rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless. On one hand there are the disenfranchised, represented by the rogue superhero American. Although American is not your typical blue-collar, working class stiff, his name is fitting. He embodies the American people; for years he has been abused, lied to, and forced to carry out unsavory acts in the name of some supposed greater good. But when his conscience is awakened, he lets loose those two traits which make him a danger to the status quo: his sense of true democracy, and the untold power within his grasp, once he finally chooses to use it.

On the other hand is the Establishment. American first faces off against the government's chief figurehead: the President. Modeled in speech and look after George W, he's an unsophisticated, morally bankrupt, petty, and ultimately short-sighted man. But the true "evil-doers" are the people behind the scenes, the real power behind the curtain. These are the faceless leaders of multi-national corporations, arms dealers, and international banks. They push the buttons and set policy, determining the best course of action to keep the public happy, complacent, and consuming.

But perhaps the character that truly epitomizes the gap between the powerful and the powerless is Icon, former teammate of American, and new leader of the super-team Enola Gay, now tasked with bringing him down. Once human, her super-powers distance her from everything she was before. Humans are an inferior, alien race to her; she neither feels nor cares for them. And just as with the power brokers that command her, the masses are nothing more than pawns she plays to further her own goals.

Cla$$War is the kind of comic you can hand to someone who disregards the medium as "kid's stuff." Yes, it is a book with people flying about in spandex. But rather than escapist fantasy, this story takes real world politics, corruption, and greed, and translates them into the superhero genre.

Delayed initially out of respect for the events of 9/11, Cla$$War and Com.X have experienced other difficulties. After a recent burglary, this British publisher, which surprised readers with high production values and intelligent, controversial material, has persevered through the loss of much original, irreplaceable artwork and $30,000 worth of damage. The original artist on the series, Trevor Hairsine, has left to pencil Captain America for the Marvel Knights imprint, ironically enough, and his replacement Cary Nord had to cancel as well.

Currently unfinished and without a penciler, the schedule of this remarkable book is in a bit of chaos. While I have no doubt it will be completed eventually, perhaps there is a greater significance to the fact that the story, as of now, has no ending. The last time anyone wants their confidence in their leaders shaken is after a traumatic crisis, despite our society's relatively open and tolerant political dialogue. But maybe this is the best time for people to confront unpleasant truths. Maybe this gives us the chance to write our own end to the story, and decide if one American can win out against a corrupt establishment.

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