Review: ’20th Century Men’ Is All That We Are, Laid Bare On The Page

Welcome to the table,

I’m at a loss for words. Well… I am at a loss for non-profane words.

My editor does not like me to use profanity where I can help it, and I respect him a lot so I do my very best to try and stray away from using words that may cause discomfort or pearl-clutching, especially in the first few lines of an article where the little grey text is going to show what I am saying.

All that said, when I finished the 20th Century Men TPB from Image Comics I sat silent for what felt like a good five minutes, and then to no one in particular, in an empty room I whispered


… holy f*ck.


It was not performative punctuation on a moment. It was not to illustrate a point, or bait to strike up a conversation. It was almost mindless as it came out. In that same way, you see something happen in your day-to-day and you react it was an honest reaction to the 300-ish pages I had just read through.

Written by Deniz Camp, with art by Stipan Morian, and letters by Aditya Bidikar, the collected edition of 20th Century Men from Image Comics is a heavy tomb, in both page count and source material.

Set at the end of the 20th Century, the story is a mind-bending commentary on war, survival, the human condition, hypocrisy, greed, hope, and faith. This book is such a dense and turbulent read and yet there are so many thoughtful moments of hope to take away from it.

The story packs so much, from super-powered American President Warhawks to destruction-driven cyborg war machines, to freedom fighters, to mech-clad Russian special forces troops, to dreams of a brave new world, an idyllic past, and a war-free existence dashed on the rocks of greed and political idolatry.

This book is a brilliantly constructed webwork where so many themes cross over in a way that when someone asks “How can you call comics an art form, they are disposable media?” I can point to 20th Century Men and say, this… this is art. This makes me think, feel, hope, despair, dream, and worry all at the same time.

In the same way, Frank Miller‘s Dark Knight was a revelation to the medium of comics, 20th Century Men feels like a comic that could be taught in schools if there are still books in schools, or schools for that matter, in the turbulent days to come.

I can’t tell you if you will like this book or not. It will upset a lot of people. It may upset everyone for different reasons. It has made me feel a full spectrum of emotions, but I think it’s a book that needs to be read. A message that needs to be taken to heart.

20th Century Men is a work that changes the fundamental landscape of comics in a way that I’m not eloquent enough to explain. It’s one of the only times in my life I have been able to look at a thing and say “I don’t think I understand this fully, but what I’ve taken away from it is nothing short of transformative and needs to be preserved and shown to generations to come.”

If humanity has a future, I hope they are able to read this work, because in many ways it is all that we have become laid bare on the page.

Until next time, I really have nothing, friends. I need to go lay down. This book has wrecked me.

Welcome to the table, I’m at a loss for words. Well… I am at a loss for non-profane words. MyCOMICONRead More

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