cover image Crisis Zone

Crisis Zone

Simon Hanselmann. Fantagraphics, $29.99 trade paper (292p) ISBN 978-1-68396-444-5

Hanselmann (Seeds and Stems) trucks on with his gross-out dark stoner dramedy series Megahex. Here, the oddball cast contends with the Covid-19 pandemic and a world seemingly spiraling out of control. The lockdown quickly leads to desperation for the mentally ill and drug-addicted protagonists: perpetually high Megg dissociates from reality with the video game Animal Crossing, uptight Owl attempts to maintain order by threatening everyone around him at knifepoint, and nigh-sociopathic Werewolf Jones makes ends meet by becoming an online porn star, which eventually lands him a Netflix reality series called Anus King. Hanselmann’s deranged approach to comedy maintains its edge, particularly in one extended parody of/homage to action films. The plotting is haphazard, though, and the frequent attempts to satirize “psychotic conservatives and unhinged uber-leftists” come off as a smug indie-comix approximation of South Park. This more political line is hammered home in Hanselmann’s “director’s commentary,” which will pique the interest of devoted fans, but others will likely find the consistently terrible, misanthropic nature of the characters at odds with the series’ climbing up on a soapbox, which renders the humor more didactic than suits the surreality of the series. It’s an acquired taste. (Aug.)