Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Channel Zero The Complete Collection

Your mind is a weapon, use it. Do Something.

This is the message repeated ad infinitum throughout Channel Zero.

In a world very similar to ours, in the late 90s, America is a silently oppressed country. A place where personal liberties are exchanged for a false sense of security.

Jennie is a teenager that fights against media censorship and freedom of speech. She will leave her mark, not only on America, but also on the world. Though pirate broadcasting and revolutionary messages Jennie 2.5 reawakens the spark that lives deep inside every one and drives us to be free.

How is it?

So it seems
Channel Zero was Brian Wood's first published work. It started out as a college assignment that Brian Wood kept working on until he had the chance to publish it in 1997 through Image Comics. And  its all about raging against the machine, fighting the established power and freedom of speech.

Jennie 2.5 fights a lone fight against the established power of the United States of America that rules with merciless censorship and an iron grip on the media. This is all made possible by the Clean Act. The Clean Act is Channel Zero's personification of the usual suspects when it comes to sci-fi oppressive regimes. "Its for your good", "Its for your safety" is all that's needed in order to kill freedom of speech in exchange for a false sense of security.

Brian Wood writes in the commentaries that unlike most of his fellow creators he isn't ashamed of his first work. On the contrary he is proud of it. A sign of it is the fact that he has been revisiting Channel Zero several times over the years.

And its not about creating a massive Universe that can last for years of storytelling. Its not about creating a book for the masses. Its all about passing a message. A message that something is wrong with the way the world is. A message that its our, the people, responsibility to intervene. A message that its no ok to just accept the Status Quo as it is without questioning it, without thinking about it.

Channel Zero has a bit of Punk, a dash of anarchic and a table spoon of revolutionary in it. And that makes for a great recipe. A recipe for a story that is completely outside of the norm and that was written to pass a message, to leave the reader with something more than just a story on his/her's mind when its all done.

Becky Cloonan's art is, for the lack of a better word, unique. Becky presents the reader with a very interesting array of contrasts between black and white (almost no grays or any other color). Its unique because it presents B&W art in a fashion I've never seen before (or since). Its not only unique, but its also gorgeous. The characters and the backgrounds alternate between well defined silhouette and masterfully impressionistic art.

Its one of those WYSIWYG books. You look at the cover (any of them) and that is what you're going to get in the inside pages.

It begins
The making of the Clean Act

Channel Zero The Complete Collection brings together everything there is about Channel Zero, from the original story to the prequel Jennie One graphic novel. The comics, the college assignments,  Brian's commentary, all the regime propaganda adds that were put in the original comics to mimic traditional comics add placement. Everything is collected except some minor texts and drafts Brian admits to have lost somewhere in time and space.  This is as close to a complete edition as there is.

Don't forget


This is a very good book. Not only for the story but the whole package. The art is unique, the story is compelling even if you're no longer (or not yet) in the irreverent and revolutionary mind set that Jennie 2.5 is in.

The thematic is a timeless one. Even now all over the world the freedom of speech is being attacked under the coat of political stability and the safety of the people. Jennie 2.5 lived in an alternative world, but she might as well have lived in ours.

With that out of the way, Channel Zero is not propaganda. No more so than 1984, A Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Logan's Run, V for Vendetta or so many other classic sci-fi / dystopian stories out there.

Channel Zero The Complete Collection might not be the easiest book to read, but it tells some great stories. Its also a cool book to look at and awesome looking in your shelf.

Publisher: Dark Horse
Year: 212
Pages: 296
Authors: Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan


  1. The premise looks really interesting, I love the idea of a subtly oppressed America. And that line of "Your mind is a weapon. Use it" is great. Would you say is Wood's best work?

    1. I can't say if this is Wood's best work or not. I've not read much of his books.

      It is however a great read.

  2. Como disse o Arion, a premissa parece-me muito boa, e dá pano para mangas!
    Parece-me um livro bastante interessante, e de que eu nunca tinha ouvido falar!


    1. Nuno,

      O conceito é muito porreiro. Neste livro está bem executado, mas não vai até ao ponto da revolução. É mais como na musica de Da Weasel

      "Há quem costume falar de revolução
      Mas a revolução não vai ser transmitida na televisão
      Ela tem que acontecer dentro de cada um
      Caso contrário nunca chegaremos a lugar algum"

      Se tiveres oportunidade, é uma boa leitura.


  3. Vou aproveitar os versos dos Da Weasel!

  4. Tenho na minha pilha de livros para ler... mas estou algo céptico dado ser dos anos 90 em que a qualidade era algo duvidosa. Depois de ler a tua crítica talvez antecipe a leitura. Ainda me passou pela cabeça comprar o The Couriers: Complete Series (este da Image) que saiu logo a seguir, e mete alguns personagens do Channel Zero...

    1. Olá Dinis,

      Eu gostei muto do livro. Não tem nada em comum com o resto dos livros dos anos 90, principalmente com os da DC e Marvel.

      Aliás, a reacção da altura foi uma de espanto e estranheza pois Channel Zero não se enquadrava com a norma da altura.

      Infelizmente desconheço o livro The Couriers: Complete Series.


    2. O The Couriers é também do Brian Wood e reúne as quatro graphic novels que ele lançou entre 2001 e 2005. O género é o mesmo, os artistas são o Rob G e o Brett Weldele.

    3. Obrigado pela dica. Vou colocá-lo na minha lista de compras :)