Days of Hate is a grim thriller set a stone’s throw into our future. It deals with in house American terrorism, Alt and far Right gangs, political manipulation and revenge. The Art work matches the narrative as the reader is taken through rusty streets and into gaudy night spots. There is a lot of unpleasantness in the story and in the Art.
And yet Kot, Zezelj, and Bellaire manage to produce some beautiful and spectacular images throughout the pages of the comic. A city scene stretched across a two-page spread creates a weirdly magical illusion of bleeding colours and flowing streets. A lonely image of Amanda, one of the central characters, standing in shadows against the door of a run-down toilet tells the reader a lot about the character and where she is in her life at that moment; relating to more than that single scene. It gives the impression of a larger sense of being trapped and reaching the bottom, as far down as she can go.
But by far my favourite part of the comic, and the one I want to spend a few words on, is the page transition from Amanda on the West Coast to Huian Xing on the East Coast. To talk about this may involve spoilers so go and read the comic first, then come back here….
In the opening of the comic the reader is introduced to Amanda as she investigates an Arson in a warehouse in down town Los Angeles. After reaching some conclusions about the incident her attention is drawn out of the window towards a bird flying by. On the surface we are led to believe she is lost in contemplation and briefly forgotten the horrors left within the warehouse. Zezelj deliberately draws our attention to the bird outside. The panels before contain two characters who are staring towards the left of the scene, automatically making the reader look that way. The establishing shot in the first panel tells us that on the left are the large windows, so when we reach panel four, we know we are following Amanda’s gaze out of the building. The most prominent feature of panel four? The flying bird, framed in the centre bars of the window.
We are then given two close up images of Amanda, the second a focused zoom on her eyes. She was lost in the moment, transfixed by the bird, as made clear by the previous panels.
The reader then moves to the next page and the action leaps across the country to a brand new character but everything about her introduction links her to Amanda. The first panel of the page is the bird in almost the same flying position as the it was seen before. Whether this is the same bird or not isn’t relevant but there is some inference that it should be viewed as the same creature. There is then a close up of the bird followed by a large image of the bird returning to its handler. It’s as if we have followed it from one side of the country to the other, from one page to the next.
The transition is cinematic in style but also serves a larger purpose than pure visual brilliance. It links the two characters in the reader’s mind. We are shown Amanda, obsessed with the flight of the bird, then made to follow it to Huian creating a mental link; the two characters are related somehow. At this point in the story we don’t know about their history, about their marriage but we have connected them through a visual transition. For the following few pages the reader is introduced to Huian’s situation and subconsciously we are trying to tie the two plot threads together. This creates anticipation in the following scenes that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Because, as an outsider, we are looking for the connection we are on tender hooks as Huian is being interviewed, wondering if that link will be explained. Without that initial transition the heightened awareness of the character relationships wouldn’t be there so when the ‘wife’ reveal comes the reader might not make the connect between Huian and Amanda. However, by some brilliant manipulation of image, when we get the close up of Peter Freeman’s face in a long, thin panel mentioning Huian’s wife the reader immediately knows who he is talking about.
The creators have used a visual ploy, a clever transition from one page to the next, to feed the reader important, but subtle, information about the future narrative so that when the reveal comes, it’s sudden and has impact. It is a well thought out, perfectly executed piece of comic book narrative and just one example as to why you should be reading this comic.
Days of Hate #1
Written by Ales Kot
Drawn by Danijel Zezelj
Coloured by Jordie Bellaire
Published by Image Comics
Life long comic book reader, collector, and reviewer.