Comic Review: Hacktivist

Written by Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly
Art by Marcus To and David Cutler
Colors by Ian Herring
Letters by Deron Bennett
Covers by Marcus To
Archaia Entertainment
Release Date: July 16, 2014
Cover Price: $3.99

The revolution will be streaming.

Hacktivist is the story of Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft, two billionaire entrepreneurs who started a decentralized social networking site called YourLife. The idea is to keep information secure on the user’s own devices while still allowing them the communication power of Twitter or Facebook. Behind the scenes, however, the two use the YourLife servers to masquerade as a hacking collective known as “Sve_Urs3lf.” They have been helping revolutionaries in Tunisia organize and disseminate information for the Arab Spring uprising.

When the CIA comes around knocking for access to the servers, and “Sve_Urs3lf,” to supposedly help with the Tunisian uprising, the business partners and life-long friends Ed and Nate come to an ideological crossroad. Nate likes the dollar signs attached to the agreement, but Ed is cautious. He knows that absolute power corrupts absolutely and doesn’t want the government in his server room. Ed wins the argument, but the war is just getting started.

Hacktivist doesn’t pull any punches. It’s a story that doesn’t rely on subtext or metaphor to get across its message. This is a good move, because it’s a message that needs to be shared clearly. Things are wrong, the world is in turmoil, and the people have the power and ability to change it for the better. Ed and Nate both, in their own ways, believe this but come at it from different angles. I liked that Hacktivist didn’t lean on the trope of the money-hungry CEO being without a conscience, or the nerdy activist as powerless. Ed and Nate are both believable as people in the world today – young, smart, desiring change.

Creator Alyssa Milano and writers Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly have written a smart, engaging techno-drama that keeps the momentum going from start to finish. It talks about social networking, government intrusion, and revolution without any eye-rolling conspiracy theories, or unbelievable technology.

The power of Hacktivist is its believability. It’s also an empowering story. The emphasis in the book is the “activist” and not the “hack.” While central to the story, the technology only acts as the carrier of information. The computers are not heroes; the network is not our savior. People power change is the message. We can do more together.

Hacktivist brings a compelling story, believable characters, and a timely message together to create a brilliant read. It’s smart, engaging, and if you’re looking for a title with its feet on the ground and its head in the cloud, pick up this book.

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