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PREZ

Prez 6 coverNow up to its sixth issue, Prez continues to sing to Mark Russell’s tune, starring teenager Beth Ross as POTUS. Russell’s satiric technique is to hold up to ridicule virtually anything he can think of in our tv- and-social-media-dominated society, taking a quick shot and then moving on to the next target. That’s the kind of satire Russell manufactures: he takes shots, one after the other, creating a scattergun approach to ridicule of every aspect of our greed-infested-big-business-capitalistic-profit-motivated-politically-corrupt-election system.

In the second issue, the horse-trading machinations of Congress come under fire. Since the electoral college is tied in voting for the President, the decision falls to the House of Representatives wherein each state gets just one vote. Each of the two factions starts cynically casting just enough votes for Beth to prevent the election of either of the other candidates, holding out for some benefit the other side can offer to get them to change their vote. Colorado wants a naval base even though it’s a landlocked state.

Says an Ohio representative: “And then guess what he offered me. NASA! And federal funding for my turkey museum. (Sigh) I think I’m in love.”

Blindly pursuing their usual bargaining methods, Representatives finally, inadvertently, divert enough votes to Beth to elect her.

The power brokers, led by Senator Thorn, are terrified. As Thorn says: “A President who doesn’t owe any favors? Who does not fear humiliation? It’s a risk I simply cannot accept.”

But he must.

Russell devotes a page at a time to each of his satirical targets. The scattergun method is provocative but not particularly coherent: the shots do not focus on a particular target long enough to constitute anything more than a comical jab in the ribs. The fourth issue concludes with this observation:

“The human race has never been comfortable at the top of the food chain. Now that we no longer have to worry about being eaten by tigers, we devote our intelligence to killing each other.”

To war, in other words.

If Russell’s make-believe world looks a lot like ours, that’s no accident.

In one of the more recent issues, Beth explains why she objects to being called “Madam President”: “A madam is someone who runs a whorehouse.”

“Exactly,” says one of her minions.

Throughout, the energetic artwork, penciled by Ben Caldwell and inked by Mark Morales, is purely delicious. Crisp and streamlined and laden with computer-generated imagery. A thoroughly modern comic book.

Prez page 2

Faces are sharp and edgy and very expressive. Anatomy is realistic but occasionally abstracted. And in storytelling, Caldwell breaks out all the resources — close-ups varying with mid-range shots for dramatic effects, borderless panels, panoramic progressions. In short, a visual treat. And his pictures sometimes carry the narrative role and often add satiric sidelights, sight gags with barbs.

Beth Ross, the ostensible protagonist, appears only occasionally. But in her absence, we witness a lot of fun-loving satirical dart-throwing.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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