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World War 3 Illustrated #36
Edited by Ryan Inzana and Peter Kuper
Published by World War 3 Illustrated
Distributed by Top Shelf Productions; $5.00 USD

This 25th anniversary issue is subtitled "Neo-Con," and is heavy with first-person reportage by victims and survivors of the global struggle for domination of the Middle East and its vast oil reserves, called by some "The War on Terror" or just "Bush's America." An impressive array of political and artcomix creators contribute, from the cover by Sue Coe to the inside contributions from Steve Brodner, Justin Wertham and Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, Eric Drooker, Tom Tomorrow, editors Inzana and Kuper and many others.

As you would expect from what I think I could fairly call a radical/liberal/progressive publication like World War 3 Illustrated, the general tone is rage, outrage, disgust, and horror at the perceived transformation of America over the course of the Bush administration. Obviously few pro-Bush minds will be changed by as biased and "unbalanced" a publication as this, but given the untold thousands of crimes against democracy and humanity that he and his overseers/cronies/fellow PNAC signatories have quite handily gotten away with right out in the light of day with virtually no need for all but the occasional cover-up, it's gratifying to see that this issue, while fueled by outrage, is nourished by truth.

"Dies Irae," written by Wertham and illustrated by Spain, is a first-person piece of autobiography by a survivor of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. It sets the tone for the issue, as a husband loses his beautiful wife and child in the attacks and begins a journey of discovery about the empty, cynical heart of deception at the center of America's political actions ever since that day. It's an effective piece of work that says more about 9/11 in nine pages of comics than you'd see in any nine network-produced documentaries on the same subject.

Joe Sacco's "Complacency Kills" sympathetically profiles the poor, doomed soldiers thanklessly tasked with carrying out Bush's policies overseas. Sacco's piece is brief and no doubt part of a longer forthcoming work covering the time he spent in Iraq, but "Complacency" provides a convincing portrait of the chaos and paranoia that accompany being an unwanted, under-prepared and under-supplied invader in a hostile land where you will never, ever be safe. A complementary piece is the fumetti "War is Hell" by Penny Allen with photos by the anonymous "Sgt. R." R's story is told through real images of the brutal inhumanity of the war being waged in Iraq, a vivid, full-colour pricetag for America's continued addiction to cheap oil. Heads blown to hamburger and corpses along the roadside -- picture postcards of America's honeymoon with the SUV. Wish you were here.

Peter Kuper's "Richie Bush" is a brilliant, insightful and inciteful satire that is accompanied by a page of unedited letters from Kuper-haters. We have met the enemy, and he is functionally illiterate. A key election strategy that got us where we are today, let there be no doubt.

There's a lot of good comics inside this issue, a lot of anger, a lot of insight. I don't know if America will ever find a leader of intelligence and integrity to pull it back from the oil-drunk lost weekend it's been on for so many years now, but now that we as a nation are packed into our American family SUV, swerving out of control across the world's highways, knocking over mailboxes and turning brown people into hamburger in our apocalyptic lust for preservation of an untenable status quo, it's nice, at least, to have an issue like this as a companion, trapped here in the back seat of a trip I never wanted to take. Are we there yet? Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane

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