Thursday, May 16, 2024

Book Review: Prez - Setting a Dangerous President

2046: Oregon teen Beth Ross has just been elected President of the United States of America. Age restrictions were abolished when corporations gained the right to run for office. Elections are now held on social media, and after a corndog accident makes Beth Ross go viral, a nation is shocked to wake up and find that "Corndog Girl" has just become their new president.

The eyes of the world are on Beth. But in a nation so used to misrule that the poor are willing to do anything on TV for a chance at a better life, will a fresh start be enough to undo the damage caused by Boss Smiley and his corporate shadow government?

Prez: Setting a Dangerous President by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell will be published on June 4, 2024. DC Comics provided an early galley for review.

Back in 1973, I was a kid moving from funny comics to super-heroes and other serious comics. That was when DC Comics released the first Prez series about a teenager who is elected president. It lasted four issues. It came out though at a time when politics and the presidency were hot topics.

Nearly forty years later, history swung back around, and thus a new Prez series came out in late 2015. This volume collects that six-issue mini-series with a few more related items as well.

My first exposure to Russell was through The Snagglepuss Chronicles, an outstanding 2018 series with a strong social commentary. This re-release of a collection of his earlier work for DC shows similar topical leanings. Subjects that were relevant two election cycles back are still very present today in 2024 with another election soon upon us. The satire might seem outlandish and extreme, but turning on the latest news cycle will show you that we're getting closer to this than we would prefer.

This is a graphic novel where the reader is rewarded for paying extra attention to the art as well. The humor is not just in the dialogue and the situations. This one takes pot-shots at a rapid-fire pace. Like all great humor, the funny comes from the truth upon which it is based.

What I found amazing is that Russell managed to predict the global pandemic we'd face in 2019 as well as other issues that would be dominant in the administration that took office in 2017. The additional material that is included in this collection from several more recent DC specials does touch upon the issues of women's rights and billionaires getting into space travel, but those felt a bit less impactful than the main miniseries.

Sadly, the main mini ended after six issues with a bit of a cliffhanger. I understand it was originally slated for twelve issues. It is a shame it did not get to that point. I would have definitely liked to see where the creative team was heading on the momentum they had back in 2016.

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