Writer: Mark Russell
Art: Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry, and Rob Steen
Additional Writers: Lisa R. Jonté and Mariah McCourt
Additional Artists: Ameliee Sullivan, Soo Lee, and Pippa Bowland
Publisher: AHOY COMICS
Release Date: March 4th, 2020
Welcome to Billionaire Island, where anything goes as long as you can afford it. However, the island’s incredibly wealthy citizens are about to discover that their dastardly profits come at an extremely high price. Let’s dive into this brand new series created by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh to uncover some of the secrets surrounding this mysterious isle.
Mark Russell hits hard with a satirical action-comedy that has elements of excitement, sentiment, and attitude. This primary installment really generates some heavy issues to the surface, adds some value to current pressing topics, and all with a tone that absolutely cuts deep. I found myself laughing out loud numerous times as the Billionaire Island was being introduced throughout the commercials sprinkled within the comic. Still, the big belly chuckle came once acquainted with Rick Canto’s Waiting Room. That said, the main protagonist in the issue has one heck of a heartfelt story that will really take your breath away. Readers, you’ll find this week’s inaugural tale putting you through an emotional rollercoaster that very well may touchdown into something pretty close to home. Nevertheless, I think that’s Russell’s intent with this narrative.
Speaking of intent, take a look at this quote from C.S. Lewis from his Preface to the SCREWTAPE LETTERS. Lewis describes evil as “… conceived and ordered in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.“ Comic fans, the SCREWTAPE LETTERS were written in 1941 and that idea STILL holds true more than ever today. That’s Russell’s underlining theme throughout the tale. All I ask is that you please simply think of that quote as you read through Russell’s BILLIONAIRE ISLAND this week.
If readers take a step back and ponder this issue, they’ll actually see the really humorous role evil plays in life, which I think Russell is trying to hang his hat on. Evil is a distraction. Evil hinges on the small minor items that cause us to veer off a good path. Sure, people murder, cheat, steal, and cripple other people. But it’s the small items that happen way before you turn a blind eye that gets you in the end. And that my dear readers is the punchline! As you’ll see in this week’s BILLIONAIRE ISLAND, one of the main characters of the issue felt like he was reasonably doing good for the world. However, deep down in his heart, he knew he did it mainly to benefit himself. And gradually over time, evil won at a slow and steady pace. To the public eye, he even looked like a humanitarian. But, the art by Steve Pugh mixed with Russell’s story really packs a powerful punch when we find out what happened to the protagonist of the story. I was not expecting that level of seriousness from Russell. And it was that gut-wrenching jolt that ultimately won this reviewer over.
I think, beneath the surface of this series plot, what Russell is getting at is that humanity thinks that they still have feelings … but they actually don’t… or I should say severely lack emotional ties in that category becoming comfortably numb (myself included). It’s different to feel compassion for someone or something but it’s another to actually act on it. The society that we live in now is completely and utterly self-motivated and self-driven. The protagonist of this opening tale was one of the few who actually acted! Money, greed, and pride are the driving force behind our current way of life driving the average man to become Slacktivist’s. We have these feelings to “want” to make a difference but if we don’t act on them then we as a society are utterly useless. This reviewer left BILLIONAIRE ISLAND this week questioning many of my moral stances and driven with motivation. Finally, not only was it Russell’s intent to make us see our society in a satirical way, but it appears as though his desire after reading this issue was for self-reflection and to begin to poke at societal change. The overall idea may at first seem overly comedic and silly… but is it really that far off?
Don’t get me wrong, there was humor throughout this issue. However, this inaugural tale packed one hell of a punch in the gut and hopefully may wake some people up. It really isn’t what I expected from a Russell issue that normally is lighthearted with his choice of humor sprinkled in. But, this was a good and eye-opening issue that may seem extreme at first until you really let it sink in. I highly recommend taking a look at this series and giving this issue a shot, especially if you enjoy vigorous discussion. This series may also be the perfect book club tale or even college course reading material. Give Ahoy Comics a shot and let me know what you think of BILLIONAIRE ISLAND.