A cryptocracy is a shadow government run by private individuals and given the current state in politics I’d think a lot of folks assume this is a real thing. Dark Horse Comics postulates that it is via this new series, but is it good?
Cryptocracy #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Dark Horse synopsis reads:
For time beyond memory, the Nine Families watched from the shadows, believing themselves shepherds and manipulating whole societies as they saw fit. Nothing happened that they didn’t observe or control. Outsiders knew naught of the Families, much less threatened them. Until now.
Why does this book matter?
As Dark Horse puts it, it’s a blend of The X-Files and Marvel’s A.I.M. as science fiction, politics, and a conspiracy theory gold mine erupts onto the comic stands. Considering we have artist Pete Woods who has put pen to paper for Deadpool, Catwoman, Superman and Action Comics, it should be a good one.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The truth revealed.
This issue opens with a summary of how the power structure works in this world and I advise to read it. It’s a well thought out and interesting hierarchy and it makes the proceeding comic that much more fun to read. You see, we’re told by writer Van Jensen right from the start that this world we thought was governed by Republicans and Democrats is really controlled by a select few, and to see the story play out knowing that enhances the intrigue. Essentially this is good writing because it unravels a whole new well thought out world that’s incredibly intriguing.
This is one of those reads where you can tell the writer has a thick notepad with a rich history for the world and its characters at his fingertips. Instead of explaining it all upfront and how the world works, we dive right in seeing how one of the top sons of a family has his fingers in a major event. By having one of his underlings describe this event we get a sense of his power, but also the scope at which he rules. It’s a fascinating story Jensen has built and the way the story plays out is part of it. There were moments where the narrative felt like Men in Black–humorous moments here and there, but the way he peels back this onion is exciting and interesting. As you start to think you understand things he slaps you in the face with a big science fiction idea with no explanation. It’s one of those experiences where you want to learn more about something, but the narrative shifts and we are left thinking about that and hoping for an explanation later down the road.
The pace of this issue is spectacular too. There are points where the exposition is heavier and the dialogue’s long, but you’re always deep in it wanting more. Just as you start to understand something things are flipped on their head with a massive cliffhanger, which give you the sense that we’re reading a very fast paced action flick and yet you’re completely engrossed in the world displayed before us. Similar to Kingsman, there’s a vivid world only touched upon here with a ton of action and an interesting main character.
This character is bad, much like most great characters, but there’s a complexity to him his peers just don’t have. We soon learn he uses conspiracy theorists against themselves, cleverly mind you, and it’s an interesting subplot that I can’t wait to see pushed forward.
The art by Woods is great too. It’s detailed, cinematic, and great in pushing the story forward. By issue’s end you’ll marvel at how much exposition, action, and character were pushed forward, and that’s partly due to how effective the art is at capturing key important elements. Take for instance a moment where one of the leaders explains what each of the nine families owns. We see a picture of a world map and colors blocking things off and we instantly understand how it’s divided. This seems to be very important and it comes across in a single panel. Woods also manages to make the more fantastical elements believable, especially a plasma net and gun, but I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers.
It can’t be perfect can it?
If you’re not into world building, or discovering something brand new in the science fiction or political realm, stay away!
Is It Good?
I was a huge fan of X-Files which is maybe why I love this so much. It’s like that show, but it reveals everything at a breakneck pace, never keeping you in the dark unless it’s necessary for the narrative. Intriguing, exciting, and without a doubt addictive comic book reading. If you give this a chance; you might just love it.