Prez, Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief by Mark Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Received from Netgalley for review.)
This was actually a really pleasant surprise. I requested this book basically on a whim, because it was so different from the majority of DC’s offerings, and because I was curious to see what Russell would do with a mostly forgotten character. I can’t say that I had any expectations, but if I had, this book would have easily surpassed them.
I’m not familiar with the original version of Prez, only with the one that guested in an issue of Sandman, so I don’t really have a basis of comparison. That’s ok, because this Prez absolutely stands on its own merits. The premise: in a day-after-tomorrow future America, teenagers can become president and anyone can vote on social media. This doesn’t directly lead to viral video “star” Beth Ross getting elected, but it certainly helps. Rank corruption is what actually hands her the win, and it’s incredibly satisfying to watch play out. This is bitter, often biting political satire, and it will definitely strike a chord with a lot of readers.
But political satire on its own isn’t enough to make a full story. What really pushed this one over the top for me was the character of Beth herself. She’s instantly, incredibly likable. It’s heartening to watch her tackle the job of president, and it’s satisfying that she doesn’t win on every front all the time. There’s also a host of minor characters on the outskirts of the story who have interesting lives of their own. I really, really hope that there’s more issues coming, because I feel like there’s so much more that could be done with this book, and I feel like Russell has plenty of ideas left.
And I have to say how much I love Caldwell’s art. It suits the book, and there’s a lot of life and variety in his characters. Sure, I’ve seen better, but somehow this art is just right for this book, and isn’t that what really matters?
After a long series of disappointments from DC, it was so, so nice to finally get a really good book from them. This is something that they should be proud of, and I hope they are. No, it isn’t a modern masterpiece, but it’s a damn good book that’s entirely unlike the vast majority of what they’re offering. Well done.
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