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Deep State: “Systems of Control” (BOOM! Studios, 2014; #5-8)

Sometimes comics, like TV shows, wind up cancelled despite being good. A chunk of story designed to be the opening salvo to something larger instead becomes the entirety of the work. An interesting world dies. Potential goes unreached. Such is the sad tale of today’s subject.

The easiest way to describe Deep State is as Men in Black-Meets-Fringe. A pair of shadowy government operatives investigate cases involving exotic science—alien crash landings, guns that shoot bullets through time, government surveillance software gone rogue...the usual. While the book strikes a pretty serious tone, its main characters have a sense of humor about them that frequently had me laughing as I read it—even as things were dangerous and on fire. That’s a tough balance to find, but Justin Jordan nails it.

Ariela Kristanina and Ben Wilsonham are on lines and colors. I’ve talked about Kristanina’s work before in Insexts. It and Deep State share violence and explosions. Her scratchy, jittery style is a good fit here too, even if there is less demand for terrifying character design. Wilsonham’s colors are sunnier than the average weird science conspiracy book.  Much like Throwaways, which had a similar palette, that choice creates a sense of agoraphobia—open spaces are dangerous to people who live in the shadows.

Deep State is a cool book, full of fun fringe science and interesting twists. While it ends in a satisfying, if open-ended, way, it’s clear that Jordan had bigger plans for the book’s future. And it is a shame that he didn’t have a chance to keep going. If you’re a fan of stories like X-Files, Fringe, or Men in Black, then I think you’ll share my disappointment that Deep State isn’t still coming out.

Collected in

  • Deep State, Vol. 2: Systems of Control (#5-8)


Writer: Justin Jordan | Artist: Ariela Kristantina | Colorist: Ben Wilsonham | Letterer: Ed Dukeshire | Covers: Matt Taylor | Designer: Kelsey Dieterich | Assistant Editor: Cameron Chittock | Editor: Eric Harburn

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