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Capitalism, Weaponized: Sun Tzu Gets Cyberpunk'd

The new graphic novel from Harper Collins makes us all antsy.

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 10:05AM, Mon. Aug. 27, 2012

Knuckle sandwich au jus, anyone?
Knuckle sandwich au jus, anyone?

It happens so often lately.

A comic book comes out in perfectbound trade paperback format and it's a long story: 352 pages. Thus, according to both the marketing tactics and the well-intentioned semantic song-and-dance of our time, it's called a graphic novel.

The Art of Warthis – is one of those.

This is the first one by the creative duo of Kelly Roman and Michael DeWeese, and it's a violent sci-fi mindfucker of a tale, like something that Pohl & Kornbluth might've written back in the day – we're thinking The Space Merchants and Gladiator-at-Law – but narratively and visually hypertrophied, metastasized. Also, since there's that sci-fi debt that today's fabulists still owe from back in 1984, we could attempt another summing up by urging you to imagine the sort of thing WIlliam Gibson, on steroids, might write if he'd been bitten by a radioactive E. O. Wilson.

Wait – E. O. Wilson?

Ants, we mean, figure intricately and weirdly in this story of how capitalism has become weaponized, China is the world's dominant economy, and corporations duke it out with the kind of military tactics and apparatus that would give anybody who appreciates the Navy SEALs a hard-on. Yes, even a female SEAL fan (or Green Beret lover or SWAT Team groupie), would get a hard-on. And, if they were in this graphic novel, they just might wind up getting that hard-on, oh Jesus, hacked off. Yeah – it gets pretty grisly up in The Art of War.

Oh, right: The Art of War. It's not merely the title, because the main conceit of this compelling grotesquery is that its action is prescribed by Sun Tzu's classic, particularly as practiced by one strange and powerful CEO – go ahead, call him the super-villain – and by the young, guilt-and-revenge-driven corporate soldier who goes up against him with such relentless fury that, eventually, the Very Fate of the World hangs in the balance.

And shit gets downright Shakespearean before it's all over.

Michael DeWeese's artwork, bold black-and-white with effective infusions of red, seems perfectly suited to Kelly Roman's writing, and the entire universe outside the book – out here, where you and I and our pets live – is preparing to have a conniption if Zack "The Watchmen Movie" Snyder doesn't eventually turn this into some hyperviolent, oddly romantic IMAX spectacle.

Move or move not: You can take it from here, warrior.

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