Upon finishing the first issue of Days of Hate, I found myself pondering a question – can you call a work of fiction dystopian when the reality of the world it depicts doesn’t seem all that darker than your own?
It’s a question I’ve heard many women pose regarding The Handmaid’s Tale (both the book and the television series) given the current political climate in The United States and the scaling-back of women’s rights under Evangelical politicians. Certainly I’ve seen it happen in my own native Texas and while single women have not yet been reduced to a state of virtual slavery as brood-mares for the rich and powerful, the same politicians who claim they are trying to get government off our backs used their power to turn 33-year-old Marlise Muñoz into an incubator against her living will and the wishes of her family in the name of being “pro-life”. I have also seen Texas become the worst place in the developed world for expectant mothers, thanks to the efforts of religious fanatics to shut down secular family-planning clinics.
What does this have to do with Days of Hate? Nothing directly, save that Days of Hate is meant to be a cautionary tale of the future which seems to be several weeks late in arriving.
Set in the not too distant future of 2022, the story of Days of Hate is set in an America overtaken by fascism following a second civil war. Work camps for certain suspect groups have been reintroduced and the government turns a blind eye to right-wing terrorist groups that target minorities, be they racial, religious or LGBTQ. As a result, the oppressed have begun to fight back with force, ironically becoming the terrorists their enemies always claimed that they were.
The plot of the first issue focuses on two women, Amanda and Huian. Once married, the two went their separate ways before our story begins. The action of the first issue shows Amanda, working undercover to infiltrate and blow up a bar & grill that is a frequent meeting place for neo-Nazis, as Huian is approached by the government about the activities of her ex-wife.
I can’t say that I enjoyed Days of Hate #1 but that is not because it is not a good comic. It is brilliantly written and well-illustrated. Unfortunately, I find myself unable to separate myself from my own reality in entering its world. This is not the usual far-flung escapist dystopian literature with mutants and zombies and leather-clad amazons in classic cars with spikes on the bumpers.
Days of Hate is all too real, to such a degree I wonder if it truly qualifies as dystopian or if the world around me has just become more dystopian than I care to imagine. The idea of mandatory conversion therapy for married gay couples and concentration camps for certain nationalities does not seem so far fetched in a world where the nominal leader of “The Free World” decries immigrants from poor countries trying to come to America with the use of a crude expletive and ignores the increasing amount of hate-related violence against non-whites and non-Christians perpetuated by his supporters.
Regardless of what you call it, this is a comic that is well worth reading.
Days Of Hate #1 goes on sale on January 17, 2018. Reserve it now on Comixology.