The New World #5
Writer: Alex Kot
Artists: Tradd Moore & Heather Moore
If your dystopian fantasies were girded with a half-life of hope and came in bubblegum flavour this is what the marketing would look like.
Everyone has their idea of what the Failed Empire looks like. At our most cynical we tend to view the present through a dirty window and think to ourselves: This is what the fall looks like. It looks like this. At our most optimistic we might view that same present but without anything in the way. Maybe with some sadness at the bad that surrounds the good, and then temper that with what we believe are the better angels. we can change this, we might think.
If you are like Ales Kot you might approach the present from behind that dirty piece of glass and realize you have a bit of cloth in your hand. You might find yourself, at your most cynical, getting ready to do some real work with that cloth. Getting busy. We can change this, you might think.
That’s the way I picture the approach to The New World. Someone who cared enough to approach that glass with work in their mind.
Ales Kot had my attention way back with Wild Children. I was very much interested in the amalgam of ideas and authors he had managed to combine into that debut graphic novel and I was eager to see where things would go from there. The New World is a logical extension of that voice. His approach to the theme, a very clear intelligence and an interest in dissecting the present cleanly and with purpose. I have never had the sense that Ales Kot wants to be smart and pointing. Rather I always had the sense that Ales Kot was smart and showing. The difference is key.
Tradd Moore handles the art chores, of course, and is well suited for Ales Kot. For me, this issue, all of the issues really, had all the visual highlights that I had enjoyed on his excellent run in the Luther Strode series. Only with a drop of something psychoactive. Maybe more than just a drop.
Tradd is always super clean, super deliberate, beautiful and flowing. At his best, his art operates like a fractal cut with a laser. There’s no edge you can’t zoom into and find information. Throughout the series, I sometimes thought he was turning the dial on that aesthetic a little too far past 11 but I never tuned out. and in this final issue, he really pulls it all together. I miss some of the choices he made in earlier books, but the last sequence of images is stellar. this is Graphitti art writ large, Banksy and Moebius holding the brush.
The New World was a mixed bag for me. Issues one to four felt uneven, and occasionally in need of an editor. The sometimes meme quality of the jokes and in-line commentary seemed more jarring than organic. At times it seemed a little too aware of itself but not in a sophisticated way I’d come to expect. That self-awareness seemed more experimental, and it kept me from being immersed all the way through. So while I was looking forward to seeing this through I found myself wondering if this would be a grand finale or a grand finally.
The good news is that Issue five has a mad rush to the final pages, but in a way that is apt and satisfactory. Ales nicely ties up his arcs and gives resolution and meaning to his characters. The ending is reminiscent of that original novel Wild Children but also a moral evolution of it. There is enough honesty and intention here that whatever flaws I found I found easy to dismiss. They did more than just peer through a dirty glass, they got to work doing something about it.
This might end up a polarizing book for the masses but fans of both Ales Kot and Tradd Moore should be happy with this.
The New World #5
A fitting end to a sometimes inconsistent effort. Ales Kot and Tradd Moore finish up their socio-political work in style and with heart. Fans won't be disappointed.