Friday, February 27, 2015

The Hacker Files issue 1

The Hacker Files
by Lewis Shiner (story) and Tom Sutton (art)
issue 1
DC Comics, August 1992

Science fiction / speculative fiction author Lewis Shiner wrote a number of comic book series for DC in the 1990s, starting with 'Time Masters' in 1990, followed by 'The Hacker Files' in 1992, and 'Vermillion' in 1996.

1992 was of course the apex year for the Early 90s Comics Boom, and DC and Marvel were flinging out new titles every month. But this was also a time when cyberpunk, hackers, and the hacking subculture were emerging as pop culture phenomena. So it wasn't too surprising when DC's management decided to act on Shiner's suggestions and release a comic book about ....well......... a hacker.

As Shiner notes in his introductory essay to the series (appearing in lieu of the Letters Column for issue 1) with 'Files' he is intent on a humanistic approach - making the hacker, rather than the computers, the focus of the story. Jack Marshall, the hacker in 'Files', is depicted as a scruffy, antisocial maverick who has little patience with Authority, but Nonetheless Has His own Principles to Which He Stays True. 

This might have been too idealized a portrait, but then again, Shiner was attempting something rather offbeat (even if the book was set in the DC Universe) by having a social outcast as hero.

In his introductory essay, Shiner indicates that he and DC editor Bob Wayne want their Hacker aesthetic to be readily distinguishable from DC's more conventional, superhero-oriented titles (this was something of a big departure from the company's 'normal' approach to comic book design at the time.....DC's more 'adult' imprint, Vertigo, wouldn't be launched for another year yet). 

However, the big weakness of 'The Hacker Files' is the artwork by Tom Sutton. Sutton's pencils are too loose and sketchy to be really effective, particularly for a book that can't rely on the types of frenetic action scenes that typify superhero comics. 

Sutton couldn't draw human faces very well, a major drawback for a book that revolved around depicting face-to-face conversations and interactions. 'Files' is further hampered by use of a murky color scheme from Lovern Kindzierski / Digital Chameleon. 

In future issues of 'The Hacker Files', Sutton's artwork would deteriorate even further............

But......... enough of the Aesthetic Arguments. Below I've posted the first issue of 'The Hacker Files', which features the first installment of the 'Soft War' four-issue story arc. 

(I'll  be posting the three following issues of 'Soft War' here at the PorPor Books Blog)

No comments: