Charmed by Alyssa Milano’s Hacktivist

Hacktivist_#1_Cover[It’s late… and yes, I am more than a little ashamed of the title of this review]

Back when I was dating Alyssa Milano, she never mentioned the fact that she was interested in writing comic books.  As such, I was a little bit surprised when I heard about “Hacktivist”, and a whole bunch more surprised after I read the book and liked it.

I’m not necessarily proud of this fact, but I bought this book fairly certain that I was going to dislike it, and that I could then write a review chalked full of self-indulgent “Who’s The Boss” and “Charmed” references.  I don’t think it’s that unfair to suggest a celebrity might get a concept for a book pushed through the screening process easier than most, and that the various publishers might be happy to use her name to help drive book sales.  As cynical as that might seem, I can tell you that things didn’t end all that well between Alyssa and myself, and so I like to think the cynicism is well placed.

OK, I may not have actually dated Alyssa Milano.  Our only split came when I stopped watching her portray Samantha Micelli on “Who’s the Boss”, which I suppose places the blame for any estrangement solely on my shoulders.  So with that out in the open, I suppose I could have gone into this with a more optimistic frame of mind, but if I had, the book probably wouldn’t have had the same impression on me.

The book is nicely designed with a simple but attractive heavy stock cover.  The writing credits go to Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, with art by Marcus To and colors by Ian Herring.  I was more than a little surprised to discover a couple of reviews where the author was critical of the art.  The art is good enough that it forced me to take notice before I had gotten through the first few pages, and it has a nice flow to it, which doesn’t happen when the creative team is out of sync.  This is, quite simply, a very nice looking book.  (And as a man who has “designed” some very appealing sandwiches in my day, I feel I’m more than qualified to make that assessment.)

The story begins in Tunisia, with what we can safely assume is the young lady from the cover of the book fleeing for her life amidst a flurry of gunfire.  After a couple pages of action, we discover that our young heroine is part of a small group of people looking to inspire a revolution in Tunisia.   Looking to spread their message through social media turns out to be a problem in a country where the government controls the internet.  Luckily there just happens to be a pair of covert philanthropist hackers ready to come to the rescue of our revolutionaries when it seems like all hope is lost.

I’ll go easy on the spoilers from here on out, but the rest of the book focusses on character development as we look into the lives of the two young men that saved the revolution and inspired the name of this comic book.

Everything moves along nicely, but if there’s criticism to be had, it’s that the plot starts to feel a bit formulaic and predictable by the end of issue 1 and our protagonists might seem a bit too familiar if you’ve watched The Social Network or Hackers recently.  The idealistic, obsessive compulsive, workaholic, philanthropist, and the suave, sexy, party-loving front man.  Perhaps a bit too easy and cliché… but it works… for now.  They’re characters that the reader can identify, and identify with quickly, within a story that seems like it could fill 12 issues instead of 4.  Its not my book, but I would suggest that it could be by design.  The fact that you assume to know these characters already could end up being a clever plot device…  but then again, it could be really disappointing.  It’s a little too early to tell after just one issue.

By the end of the issue, the book is definitely engaging enough to inspire the reader to keep going, which judging by the reaction I got when I told people I was reading this book, should come as a happy surprise.  If Alyssa Milano and her creative team can steer clear from the predictable plot some of the more negative reviewers think we’re headed for, this could turn out to be a fantastic run.

The reviews of this book have come in across the board, and we’ll try to link a few of the highlights in the comments section of this article.  I like this book, but if you’re looking for something more positive, look no further than Joe Simon’s glowing thumbs-up posted over at Comic Book Resources.  While we’re all huge fans of Comic Book Resources here, I’m not sure I’d go in with the unbridled admiration that Mr. Simon suggests.  He’s either a very big Alyssa Milano fan, or looking to provide a quote for future Hacktivist promotional material.  Agree or not, he’s definitely provided some sexy sounding copy for publishers, Archaia and Boom Studios to sell their new book with.

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