The Nightly News, by Jonathan Hickman

March 19th, 2008 by

Nightly News TPBLast week, or perhaps the week before, I brought home the first two issues of Pax Romana. Mostly because I liked the art in the second issue (which had just been released). Within a day or two, a co-worker brought to my desk the trade paperback of The Nightly News, saying he’d just read it on a plane, and thought I might like it. I flipped through it, and briefly thought the art was reminiscent of Pax Romana, which I hadn’t yet cracked.

The night before last I finished The Nightly News. I didn’t know yet how I felt about it. I had to think about it the whole way to work the next morning, and then again a few times yesterday, and then have a conversation about it with a co-worker before I really felt like I’d solidified my opinion.

You see, I just can’t help but hate it.

The art was spectacular, the plot: riveting. But the ending: WTF?

Now you know my opinions, but there are spoilers ahead, so only read on if you don’t care or won’t be reading this anytime soon.

This was another one of those books where the main characters are the “bad guys”. Getting close to the end of the book, I knew of only one character (still left alive) that I thought had any morals whatsoever. Sure, there was another character we were supposed to like… he’d been the main character from the beginning, but he was annoying and stupid. Actually, that was a big part of my problem with the whole book. A whole lot of stupid people. Don’t get me wrong, there are a whole lot of stupid people out there in the world. But I generally don’t want to read about them.

So we’ve got a bad guy who hates the media. Or maybe he just hates news media, or maybe he hates the idea that some people control the media and that that those people therefore control everything else. (Among many in the book, I totally disagree with this premise.) But no, he couldn’t really hate the eight or so people who control the media, because he’s one of them. (Were we really supposed to be surprised?) Oh, and because he spends the first half of the book arranging for the deaths of public front-facing media figureheads rather than doing anything about the illuminati type guys behind the scenes. I suppose this could all be for the public somehow, an elaborate show (presumably to get some bill passed so the big media would have more (preposterous) legal accountability, but that too seems rather counter-productive when the real problem is sitting right there before you in a board room.

There were moments, (ok, one moment), where I thought the whole thing might really turn around and actually have an interesting plot to back up all the pretty graphics. About halfway through the book we got introduced to the aforementioned moral character. We didn’t actually know right away he was a good guy… and, in fact, he wasn’t really all that great a guy… but better than all the other douche bags who “get away” with it. Anyway, he was interesting, and his story was more compelling for me because the more we learned about it, the less an idiot he was.

But, of course, then he gets blamed for the whole thing. Not before he’s forced at gunpoint to kill his best friend. And then in the end of the book, (in the “notes” section, where the author reveals he’s a fuckhead), the author says “The argument could be made that James did commit the greater sin, since his was a personal betrayal.” OK. So quick question here… Which is worse: Killing your best friend when a gun is to your head, and you know the person behind that gun will kill you and your best friend in an instant if you don’t… or… killing a fuck ton of people who you don’t know, don’t want to know, and don’t care about knowing, oh, except those people are journalists. Oh wait, I forgot journalists are people too!

In the beginning of the book, I remember thinking to myself… he’s not really going to… and then he did. I haven’t yet been able to really articulate what “it” was for me… I guess basically justify the terrorists who kill the reporters. And I guess I don’t give a rats ass about artistic license, I think writing a story about a mastermind psychopath who kills journalists, all the while giving little tidbits and writing factual sounding sentences about how much journalists suck, and then having the guy killing the journalists not only “get away” with it in the end of the book, but also writing gobs of narrative from this asshole’s perspective… this is basically an endorsement.

Does this book say: we’d be better off killing all the journalists? No. But does it imply that someone who might kill off journalists might have a point, and could maybe make the world somehow a better place through lots of killing, and then repealing parts of the fourth amendment? Yes, I think it does, and that is not only wrong, but I think it is both stupid and morally reprehensible.

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