As I sit here writing this advance review for Billionaire Island #6 my own government – albeit one I never voted for – have just voted on breaking international law and reneging in a deal they drafted, rushed through parliament and then passed. Take that in for one moment, won’t you? And then realise that nothing in this concluding issue of this billionaire-bashing series surprises me, even though we all acknowledge that any work of satire uses exaggeration a good deal of the time to make its point. But, more and more the satirical fiction of Mark Russell’s writing comes closer to the reality that even he probably ever imagined.
So, when I read about the propaganda war the denizens of Freedom Unlimited unleash in an attempt to out their own spin on the damaging the truth behind Aggrocorp’s sterility-inducing corn snacks, I laughed, but uncomfortably, as I recognised this worrying anti-scientific rhetoric becoming more and more the norm in our own world. You only need to look at your own President to see this in action on a seemingly daily basis when he speaks on such subjects as global warming and Covid-19, which he happily dismisses with an arrogant wave of the hand and an often self-opinionated personal view so far removed from science it may as well have come form the Dark Ages. But then again, Russell has always had a keen eye and wicked sense of humour to comment so comically on such matters. And, this book is once agin full fo such observations that help fuel the story’s conclusion.
Sharing in his glee at satirising such an elite social class is Steve Pugh, himself a rather dry-witted observer and the perfect fit for this particular narrative. Pugh paints a world that is an overblown representation of our own, but not too far removed with his excellent eye for detail and realism (hey, is that Birmingham’s new library featured in one panel? I think it is!) that is an absolute necessity when telling such a seemingly far-fetched story as this one. His character designs have been amazing to take in – with each player, no matter how minor, instantly recognisable – and the way he manages to capture each individual character in their physical appearance is brilliantly Chaucerian. Caricatures that are exaggerated just enough without entering the territory of becoming a cartoon copy. They are gross and uncaring, and portrayed as much too.
Stocks and shares, manipulation of the markets, inconvenient truths replaced by convenient untruths, and Kid Rock as President. See, not too far from the truth now is it? And, surveying it all is Business Dog, the true brains behind this whole operation when you stack it all up. And, absolutely vital to the conclusion of this dark humoured drama. Obviously I won’t go spoiling the ending of this series, which does away with the humour at the very last to offer up one last stark observation on this world that we have made for ourselves.
A prescient, powerful and fun series, Billionaire Island #6 is out Wednesday 16th September from AHOY Comics.