Why You Should Be Reading… Dark Horse’s “POP”

Welcome back folks… Grainbelt is here for another installment of… WHY YOU SHOULD BE READING…

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First let’s talk this week, I went into this with a clear agenda, to be frank I just felt compelled to do a column about a Dark Horse comic. I looked back on some of my past articles and Dark Horse seemed to be missing representation, I felt a little weird about this because Dark Horse is semi local. Living in Seattle I’m exposed to all kinds of work released out of the Oregon based publication, and for that reason I felt as though the time had come to expose my enjoyment for their comics. I also had the idea of wanting to chose something shorter, for those readers who like quicker arcs that fall into the 4/5 issue range. Speaking of falling, this weeks installment of the column fell into place when I finished reading “POP”, offering the perfect place to start when adding Dark Horse to esteemed list of Why You should be reading…

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Pop is a creative effort in exposing the conspiracy that is the Entertainment Industry. It is set in a time not so specific but seems to resonate with present day. We are in a time where celebrity and “POP” culture is the be all end all of mass influence and culture,  making a main proponent in directing the public. There’s a system in place not only to monitor its influence, but continually has a hand in the mass manipulation scheme, involved with making profits from this influence. Stars are not born but harvested and cultivated to be sold to markets and companies wanting to find “The Next Big Thing”. This is where genetics and engineering combined to make an assembly line of potential “POP” culture mongrels, shaping the very society that humans digests in, making this a multilayered organization with intense power and control. That control begins to be jeopardized when a subject escapes, attempting to flea her destiny of becoming a a tool used for mass manipulation.

Next we find Coop a man and character I truly resonate with on some level, the man is a loner who has a mass affection for comics and records, in addition to dated media, he has also acquired a hefty Pot habit which is a theme hinted through out the issues.

“Hiding behind all these stacks of records and losing yourself in all these forgotten, dusty, shitty, beautiful old comic books.” – Coop

The level I don’t resonate with is his apparent depression, he is actually suicidal, feeling as though he has nothing left, succumbing to his loneliness and lack of “purpose”. Just when all seems to be coming to an end, Coop bumps into our escapee as she unknowingly inspires him to hang on just a bit longer.

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Fate has brought these 2 together, each with their own set of circumstances and issues, yet both are looking for a second chance. Coop adopting Ellie and her problems, is a determined man, willing to help anyway possible, risking his life and well being in process. These 2 continue to get to know each other by force, as they face all the obstacles being laid out before them.  By continuing to Flee and trying to stay alive their refusal to cooperate is a direct threat towards those profiting from this industry and with each passing moment things become more dangerous and difficult to navigate. Seeing how escaping a industry that controls everything from surveillance cameras to phone lines os extremely difficult, it puts our main characters in very interesting circumstances. Plus with the addition of massive amounts of money, its easy for the industry to contract some really bad people to do their dirty work, proving they will stop a nothing to recapture their property. Ellie paired with Coop continue as they are the only 2 each other can trust, seems like their pursuers have infiltrated everything they are associated with, causing collateral damage to everyone one around them,  continuing to show us how deep influence has effected the world we live in.

“I imagined an infinite array of universes, realities where you and I rotated around each other like self-contained singularities, always orbiting but never converging, never coalescing. An infinite array of universes where we were devoid of form, of purpose…” – Liner notes

This story is massively creative, the parallels in this series between real life is staggering , and we even get a nice cameo or 2 from characters you will recognize. They do well using a character named Dustin Beaver adding a catalyst to prove the influence these people have over their artist, and I found myself really enjoying this treat. The artwork also tells a story of its own and with some of the bright colors it gave me that 80’s vibe (I actually played M – Pop Muzik while writing this) even though the comic seems to be set in current time. Everything fits well with this piece and the title shaped up to be a nice addition to the Dark Horse family, and for those of you looking for a smaller commitment, 4 issues is the perfect amount to dive into. For those into the writer factor of comics will appreciate how well writer Curt Pires delivered a clear cut story. You can tell he had a clear objective with this project and the smoothness of the story displays this, plus adding in the fact once finished I felt he could of extended one more issue, which usually means the writer ended it at the perfect time VS dragging things out or cramming an ending.

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Well readers, this is going to sum up this week, but before I go I want to talk about a next weeks article. I will be introducing another portion of why you should be reading, and next week I will be doing the Why You Should be Reading… THE DIG.

Basically the premise is simple, I will be adding a bit more limitation to what I will be writing about next week, meaning I can only feature a comic/title I find while digging. This includes back issue bins, thrift and second hand stores, along with vendors and swap meets. I want to open it up to make sure we get some obscurity on here as well, plus as any true comic head knows the art comes from “The Dig and finding gems those gems in through all the dirt is what we do this for.

Well keep on Keepin on readers, and Ill catch ya next week…..

– Grainbelt Jones

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