Written by Wayne Talbot
Art, Colours & Lettering by Brian Corcoran, Ruairi Coleman, Timothy Brown, Wayne Talbot & Miriam Abuin
On reading The Broker, you feel a sense of sadness this comic was made. Not for any creative reasons – this is a fine debut from writer Wayne Talbot, with some terrific panels and colours from Brian Corcoran, Ruairi Coleman & Timothy Brown; rather given the story could only exist in the kind of murky, paranoid, increasingly dystopian future of the late 2010’s. Talbot’s tale is one that will resonate especially with any modern, intelligent liberal railing at the Trumpocalypse we’re currently living in; a story of corruption, injustice, heroes cast as villains, and the pervasive, dangerous influence of social media.
That makes it sound awfully heavy but in many respects, The Broker as a one-shot, forty page story feels much indebted to the Paul Verhoeven school of late 1980’s, early 1990’s action pictures such as Robocop or Total Recall, with news anchors reporting anarchic acts of modern terror as twisted, gurning, Joker-esque villains take selfies for the camera and enjoy the destruction and torment they wreak on the unnamed American city Talbot’s story takes place. It could be any current US metropolis though, in all honesty, the setting is incidental to events which swirl around Catelyn Harrison, our eventual protagonist who finds her live radically altered thanks to insidious forces.
Come the end, you may hope to see a sequel to The Broker simply for the fact Catelyn is a pretty damn badass heroine; a former US Army soldier returned from tours in Afghanistan, haunted by an act of intended valour which blew up in her face, rocking a surly attitude and a Nirvana t-shirt; she quite literally sticks the middle finger up at the conspiratorial, conscience free root of evil at the source of the story, the titular, mysterious ‘broker’. Like Gordon Gekko shot through with a slice of Patrick Bateman, the Broker is classically slimy in a machiavellian sense, representing everything wrong with the cold, corporate face of America and the West today.
Oddly enough, and what made me smile, was how Talbot goes out of his way to construct Trump as an utter buffoon who even the money making, sinister behind the scenes secret rulers of the world didn’t want in power. Trump’s rise was the negative consequence of a plan we see unravel across The Broker; even the power brokers don’t want to be anywhere near Trump’s toxic rule. Talbot isn’t showing sympathy for the nebulous forces at work in his story but throughout he comments quite strongly on the self-destructive face of American society, slowing eroding civil liberties, truths and true patriotism in the face of spin, corruption and whoever tweets the longest tweeting the loudest.
Beyond the story, The Broker delivers plenty of superbly drawn panels which bring to life the characters and the city we’re reading, following a colourful and expressive opening few pages from Coleman & Brown before settling into a darker, edgier style from Corcoran (with colours by Talbot himself) for Catelyn’s story. It’s not a join you can see and helps further convey style and mood, of which there is plenty across The Broker.
An excellent independent piece of work from a number of faces in the comics community we need to pay attention to on the strength of this.
The Broker is available to order from Rogue Comics Ireland at firstname.lastname@example.org