Written and Art by Jonathan Hickman
The Nightly News is about being mad as hell at the media and not going to take it anymore.
John Guyton is a man down on his luck, out of work and a family because of an irresponsible news story. He is given a mission and a meaning from The First Church of the Brotherhood of the VOICE, a terrorist cult organization bent on not simply protesting sensationalist news dictated by corporate overlords. Instead, they’re actually doing something to get back at the media machine that has wronged them. Something involving a body count.
Anyone like me with an inclination towards journalism and mass communications will immediately have their interest piqued by the shock value of a cult assassinating journalists. Oddly, this book’s response to sensationalist media is on its own sensationalist. Nothing like seeing a guy snipping random protestors to make you pay attention, but the book keeps you going after it dives deeper into how media has seemingly wrecked the lives of John and his cohorts. Their personal traumas make the offer of retribution from the VOICE all the more tempting. John’s experiences and attitude toward the media is a good reminder of the effects of mass communication on the subject and the care that should be taken to get the whole story.
The book also uses information in narration and inserts to suit its own viewpoint, while it doesn’t actually prove anything with it. This sensationalism and agenda-based info usage is what John and the VOICE preach against, adding an interesting conflict and further thought on the book.
This sort of hypocrisy points out that the book isn’t really advocating journalistic genocide, but instead wants readers to think about the news they are consuming, to not blindly accept what’s broadcasted as fact without considering all the biases and untold stories that could go with it.
With that said, I think some of the press representatives in the issue are a bit too vapid or just plain ridiculous to be really balanced (ending every scene on screen with “courage”). But really, that’s minor and could change in subsequent issues.
With its violent content, this book is not for everyone. And let’s face it, not everyone cares as much about the driving forces behind the news as long as they believe they are informed (but that’s the point, isn’t it?). Not for the squeamish, but otherwise a good story thus far with enough intrigue to see where it keeps going.
The styling of this book is definitively on theme for a comic about news and media. By that, I mean infographics everywhere. Little informational inserts, lists and graphs accompany the art of the book, which is neat – but a bit messy – from a visual standpoint. It also adds an air of authority to the story. You’re more likely to believe the narration with all of this presented information.
Coloring is pretty conservative, in a way. It’s basically in black and white with a couple of close colors to accentuate the scenes (oranges for the present and blues for the past). The characters are intentionally shadowy in appearance, not revealing much of their features. The intentional vagueness allows for easier relation to the reader and for more focus on the text the reader should be reading.
Essentially, The Nightly News is the spiritual sequel to Network, with its tearing at profit-driven news in this country. Heck, this issue’s title is Howard Beale’s famous quote, after all. Not everyone will care about the information overload or the violence, although it isn’t presented with much gore.
This might not appeal to all strictly tights-and-flights comic fans, but it’s a good book to give to a media-savvy buddy or someone who stays glued to a 24-hour news network.
On that note, The Nightly News #1 is available as an Image Firsts book, which is Image Comics’ $1 bargain line to give new readers an affordable starting point on series they want to push. It’s a good idea that several publishers utilize and that comic shops need to put front and center in their stores, as is how I found the book on this year’s Free Comic Book Day.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10