fantasy and science fiction book reviewsDeep State by Justin Jordan and Ariela Kristantina

DEEP STATEBoom! puts out some fun comics, very much in the Mark Millar, block-buster movie style, and Justin Jordan’s Deep State is certainly a page-turner. I read it in about an hour and could hardly take a breath the entire time. This first volume collects issues one through four, and though it ends on a cliffhanger, the book does tell a complete story. It’s just that the last page will make you want to read issue five immediately to see where the larger arc is taking us.

Deep State introduces us to the very intelligent, very capable, and very curious Ms. Branch. The combination of these three qualities leads a top-level government agency with no name to seek her out and hire her. She meets him for the first time and is offered this mysterious job after a late night at work: She walks into her home and finds the quintessential man-in-black John Harrow sitting on her couch in the dark. As he explains to her, he makes sure that “secrets stay secret.” All those conspiracies that everybody believes, he confirms, apparently have more truth than we realize. And John Harrow knows the full truth about these conspiracies, including little details such as who shot JFK. His job is to make sure the conspiracy theories stay just that — theories.

deep state 88Ms. Branch can’t resist the offer of a job, a peak behind the scenes, no matter how dangerous it might be. The rest of the book chronicles her first mission with Harrow as they head to a small town that is the site of a crash landing from the moon. Something, or someone, has taken an old moon-landing rocket from a secret voyage in the early 1960s and decided to return it to Earth — and comes along as a passenger. As Harrow’s men close off the town, Branch and Harrow must stop the terror that threatens the residents. The action builds fast and is non-stop.

I don’t have much to say about the themes in this book, though it does touch on topics such as the nature of survival and governmental conspiracies. Primarily it is meant to be an action-packed comic, and it delivers. If you like reading books about alien invaders and government conspiracies, you’ll like this book. Not all comics need thematic depth, and in this book, it would get in the way of the action, the author’s main focus. I’m willing to give the book four stars because it does what it attempts as well as I could have hoped, and I loved the surprise ending on the last page. The art, too, is top-notch and perfectly fits the tale being told. I’ll be looking for more comics with art done by Ariela Kristantina. So, take a break from that long book that you keep getting bogged down in and read Deep State by Justin Jordan.


  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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