Like most people, I’m pretty interested in side-effects. The US spends millions in Afghanistan fighting the Russians, and ends up giving a lot of people the skills needed to strike back. The CIA spends time and money aggressively pursuing American interests through less than honest means, and inadvertently help fund the destruction of the inner city and the black family. Millions of kids go to college for IT at the height of the dot-com boom, and then find themselves out of luck and with nowhere to go.
Jeff McComsey ‘s American Terror: Confession of a Human Smart Bomb is one of those books that deal with side-effects. Victor was trained to kill by the military, imprisoned for not following orders, and then bounced to civilian life. He was left aimless, basically drifting through life, and in the process of being headhunted by various “corporate security” firms. They want him to use his skills to wage war on their dime.
Instead, he ends up enlisting with a man who has no interest in self-serving violence or money-grubbing firms. Homer wants to start a school to work against these soldiers for hire. He’s interested in counterprogramming. Homer, Victor, and the varied crew that signs up for the gig all work for the greater good, but still manage to kick off the War of the Third World. Millions end up dying, but at the end of it all the world is a better place. Was it worth it?
Victor is stuck in a story that’s interested me for a while. We hear plenty about dictators and people who grasped power just so they can line their own pockets and tell other people what to do. If you vote, you’ve probably voted for one at least once. What about those who take by force, but for a good reason? “I’m going to make this a better world, whether you like it or not.”
I think that’s a fascinating line of thought, particularly in light of today. We live in a world where war is not about death or peace. It is about business. We have fighter jets cost 40-some thousand dollars to run for an hour, are produced with a glaring weakness to rain (of all things), and has an average failure rate of once every 1.7 hours. We push for the lowest bidder to maximize profits. You can be a professional soldier and make a ton of money. When’s someone going to say, “Hold, enough” and turn that around?
American Terror is a little rough around the edges, but a good read. I’m not entirely sold on the pacing, for example, but the art is top notch. McComsey sells the violence and talking heads bits with equal amounts of skill. The story of Victor, the people he comes across, and the people he kills while finding a direction for his life make for a pretty interesting tale, I think. Volume 1 and Volume 2 are available on Amazon for cheap.
Jeff McComsey, of course, is the artist of Bloody Pulp. You should go to the Zuda page for it, give it a read, and give it a vote and favorite it if you dig it. Judging by American Terror and the 8 pages of Bloody Pulp that are currently online, I like what I see.