Last time on Billionaire Island
When we last left “Freedom Unlimited,” our escapees, Reporter Shelly Bly and Real Estate Developer Falco Jakes had almost made it to safety. Using Falco’s multi-billionaire bankroll, they would simply book a drone flight and get off the island. Unfortunately, they ran up against a security system that was recently upgraded. It now required Jake’s Photo ID. Apparently he had left it at home with his mannequin wife Linda (see issue 3-4). Curses! Foiled Again.
But Falco knew the ins and outs of the place. And why not, he designed it. So when Shelly noted Island Exec Rick Cantos’ personal drone. Falco used a simple ink pen to break into the building it was kept. That’s what happens when those who bankrolled the construction demanded costs to be kept down. So they were just a few feet from REAL “Freedom Unlimited.” But were they?? Let’s find out in issue five.
As they started to make their way to the landing pad on the upper deck, Shelly made a detour and opened the door to the hamster wheel. Her former “hamsters” were still there. Content in their waiting for the next food or money drop. She asked them to go with her. They were reluctant at first. At least until Trent decided to set the place on fire. It was now leave or be cooked. Leave it was. Good choice.
But as they approached the drone, and attempted to access it, the thumbprint scanner detected an unauthorized access. Security measures were initiated. By security measures, we mean a huge machine gun that counted down its rain of security. (Think the car security ad on RoboCop. But instead of MagnaVolt, Cantos used bullets). Unfortunately for most of them, they were unable to escape the lethal security. Shelly was able to get away as was Executive in training Lacy Peters. However, Our friend Falco Jakes was not so fortunate. It is his thoughts that provide much of the context that is explored the rest of the way.
As for Trent, he made no pretense to escape just yet. He still had a man to kill. So when Cantos was alerted to the fire in the hamster wheel, he was greeted by Trent and a gun. He explained his story and why Cantos was about to die.
For his part, Cantos was unmoved. He still explained how he had probably done Trent’s wife and kids a favor by not prolonging the inevitable extinction all those “less fortunate” would face. Trent too was unmoved. He shot him, point blank in the chest.
But wouldn’t you know it, even bullets are designed here to spare the filthy rich. The “smart bullets” detect your net worth and transform to chalk if your bankroll is sufficient. Imagine if they had put that kind of ingenuity to work for good. So instead, Canto has his “Carmen Miranda” robot barkeep throw a knife into Trent’s chest. All the while monologuing about how this was best…blah, blah, blah. At least until one of his former employees asked him to have a seat…literally. No bad deed goes unpunished or forgotten…eventually.
It was then that Shelly came back into the room. Trent was ready to go now…along with the knife stuck in his chest. Tough dude. But Shelly had another idea for that knife. Especially since Mr. Cantos would probably not be needing his thumb at this point. A passed security scan and they could go. Lacy, who decided that being an executive for Mr. Cantos might not work out, caught up in time to leave as well. The drone lifted off as the dying Falco Jakes put things into perspective.
As you might expect for those who have followed this whole story, things aren’t that simple on Billionaire Island. They never are. Even for those filthy rich who think they control everything. If life teaches us anything, it’s you reap what you sow…eventually. Even if you try to justify your actions with some B.S. about how you are somehow doing those less fortunate a favor. Easy to say when you’re NOT one of those less fortunate ones. It all comes home to roost. Sometimes in unexpected ways. Writer Mark Russell explores this point throughout the series and drives it home in this fifth issue.
What’s in a Name?
Take the name Billionaire Island. When Falco was designing the island, those who were bankrolling the place revealed two things. Number one, none of them actually worked for their money. Cantos owned AggroCorp without knowing anything about farming. Another member of his board had inherited his wealth, while another received her mining operations through her divorce. The recipients of others hard work.
Number Two, they decided not to call the place Billionaire Island because they thought it might be offensive to some poor farmer in Oklahoma. Instead, they would call it “Freedom Unlimited.“ It would make the poor think it would be a place they could aspire to. All the while knowing that such people would NEVER be allowed there. The wealth sensors at every port would prevent that. It’s all about the messaging. Say a lie enough and people might start believing it.
The Value of Immigrants
That brings up one of Russell’s more effective ideas about that distinction between the classes in this “fictional world.” The board discussed what might happen if an “undesirable” came on the island. They decided a prison would be built. Falco designed the prison to be the best…until they saw the bill.
So the board then charged Falco to cut corners, cut costs. To accomplish this, he brought in immigrant workers to complete construction. Hard workers who did their jobs with skill and under budget. But while the board was pleased by the bottom line, they immediately questioned who THOSE people were. The immigrants who had built their fancy new prison. Well guess who were the first occupants of the prison. If that is not relevant satire, what is.
If you haven’t read Billionaire Island, you really should. Mark Russell and artist Steve Pugh have created a series that is replete with satire. Some subtle and some that hits you in the face like a sledge hammer. All of it thought provoking and more often than not, hilarious.
Even issue five’s cover has a message. (You will need to have read issue four to understand the significance). It’s a statement about where the power really lies. At least, that’s my interpretation of it. But that’s what satire is for, get what you see from it. If it provokes a civil discussion, then mission accomplished Ahoy. Mission Accomplished.
As with every Ahoy Comic, there are extra text stories as well as another entry of Pickle’s Pantry. This one is Mini Pumpkin Crumble Pies for the End of the World. Seeing as how we have reached the final issue for Ash and Thorn next month, that is topical.
Have you read the Billionaire Island series? Share you thoughts about this issue and the series as a whole with us at Geek Vibes Nation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.