Comic Review: “Decimators” (Ibai Canales, Monochrome May Special)
Welcome back to Monochrome May, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of black and white entertainment. No, not that kind….
The age of nanotechnology is upon us, and humanity has overstepped its bounds. Upon recognizing that the nanobots now living in every human being can be used to manipulate their behavior, the powers-that-be decide to “fix” anyone who is “problematic”, removing any and all impulses to be racist, sexist, misogynist, xenophobic, etc. (i.e. an “istophobe’). Unfortunately, this had unintentional consequences. Now, huge chunks of the population are becoming bleating, zombie-like “drones” who wander the world reciting politically correct, bumper-sticker style slogans. These drones viciously attack anyone or anything that can be construed as -istophobic, and the nanotech itself is continually evolving, finding new ways to spread and threaten the rest of humanity. Enter the Decimators, a team of elite armored soldiers specifically trained to engage with the drone menace.
What follows is a high-octane action book, complete with tons of gags intended to poke fun at the current cultural trend of PC obsession. The drones are consistently spouting the buzzwords and slogans of the over-sensitive and easily offended, whether it be references to race, gender, sexuality, etc. For readers who find such histrionic outbursts laughable, then many of the jokes are genuinely funny. If you count yourself among the drones (joyless adherents of political correctness), then Decimators is not at all designed for you, unless you somehow have a sense of humor that allows you to laugh at yourself.
While Decimators could understandably be brushed aside as a big joke, by volume two, there are indications of a deeper morality tale emerging – something about how easy it is for anyone to slip into authoritarianism, no matter what your moral code is. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get too much up it’s own vagina with preaching. Decimators is still more about the violence and gags, but it’s worth mentioning that the story isn’t 100% pure schlock. The story remained interesting across all five books. There are new characters added along the way, and the main team of heroes is fairly well developed.
Much like most of Canales’ other books, the art in Decimators is black and white (if that wasn’t readily apparent already). The characters are all very expressive and have a unique design (both in and out of their combat armor), so keeping track of who is whom is not a problem. The action scenes are fast-paced and brutal; there may not be any red on the page, but the book remains remarkably violent.
Probably the least satisfying aspect of Decimators is the wonky format of the book itself, which is 7.75” x 5” (think a typical manga book flipped in its side). give Canales credit for trying something different, but the format doesn’t make it more “cinematic” or really add anything in terms of the art. Instead, it gives me the sense that I am reading a collection of comic strips rather than a cohesive narrative.
Another nitpick I noticed – at least in my copy – was that volume five has printing issues, including some slightly blurry pages. This might have been due to a bad print run or low-res images being used for these pages. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s still irksome.
Volume five ends as though the series is poised to continue, though much like the zombie stories that inspired it, it isn’t clear what the endgame will be for Decimators. Despite my appreciation for the humor, I’d like to see the series come to a satisfying conclusion before the gimmick completely exhausts itself. If you are a fan of Canales’ artwork or you think you’d get a kick out of the humor, I do recommend that you give Decimators a shot.
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