Not all heroes and villains come equipped with capes and maniacal laughs. And if you are looking for a good versus evil, superhero-ish comic then you have come to the wrong place. But if you are looking for a good story, an entirely plausible tale, then Hactivity: Private Data is for you. There is not a thing in this comic that couldn’t come true in the near future. What you think of as privacy is merely an illusion, my friends. And this webcomic turned graphic novel will show you why.
Shawn Harris, also known as T.F. in the cyber realms, has done the unthinkable. He has hacked into multiple government databases and released classified information to the public. The fact that the information he released was all focused on how our government agencies were watching everyday citizens is beside the point. Or is it? Having grown tired of the way the FBI, NSA, and other entities were going about their business at the expense of the common man, Shawn decided to warn his fellow Americans by shedding light on their dark little secrets. And they, in turn, arrested him.
Charged with a variety of crimes such as computer abuse and fraud, as well as being accused of espionage, Shawn faced decades in prison for releasing what essentially should have been public records anyway. Now personally, I don’t condone hacking, having been the victim of a couple of instances in the past. But there is a difference between stealing information for personal gain and being a watchdog over public agencies that are overstepping their bounds. This is the story of one man’s fight for freedom that evolves into a nationwide campaign, polarizing both sides until the very end. And while this is a work of fiction, it’s all too real in some aspects.
This original story is the brainchild of Ovi Demetrian, Jr. A web designer by day, he has put together an excellent tale that hits maybe a little closer to home than many people realize. To aid him in his quest of storytelling, Demetrian enlisted the services of comic artist James Whynot. And while I was occasionally thrown off track with a frame or two, overall the art was serviceable and kept the focus on the storyline rather than seeking to overshadow it. I also feel that the black and white colorless scheme was fitting in this case, giving everything a more cut and dry feel that colorizing it might not have conveyed.
I thoroughly enjoyed this comic. It was succinct and steered clear of any partisan politics, for the most part. The tagline on the back of the book was perfect: “There’s a fine line between security and liberty.” And while I hope that things never come to a point where we fear our government, works such as this and Orwell’s 1984 remind us to stay vigilant. So stand up and be counted, my friends, we all have the power to be heard. It’s refreshing to see someone passionate about their work and even more so when it has a valid point to make. Grab this while you can, it’s available in digital and print forms, and know that you’re supporting independent comic creators when you do. What better feeling can you have than that?