Let’s catch up, Issue One:
The world is a freaking mess. Between global warming, pollution, over population, there’s little to recommend it these days. However, leave it to Rick Cantos, Majority Owner of AggroCorp to find a solution. It’s called Freedom Unlimited. It is an exclusive, moving Island just for the Billionaire Class. In fact, there are security measures in place to block any undesirables…those whose bankroll do not measure up. There are no laws, no taxes, and a chance to do all the things society might frown upon.
Living in the Hamster Wheel
But one of those things NOT allowed is to ask questions. Just ask Shelley Bly, reporter for the Miami Herald. She made the mistake of asking head man Cantos the wrong question and ended up in a room called the Hamster Wheel. But in this case, it’s name describes what it is. She is there with a former accountant of Mr. Cantos, who also asked the wrong questions.
In addition, there is a young woman who firmly believes she is only in the room as a test, and will be let out soon. As for as the other two men in the room, there story hasn’t been told as of yet. But the majority have one thing in common: They are in no hurry to leave. As far as they are concerned, it could be worse. They are fed regularly, and also given money. What good the money is since you are locked in a room is debatable, but they are accepting and docile, just as Rick Cantos wants.
But not everyone on the outside world sees this as a good thing. Especially when you have lost your wife and child due to Cantos’ company Aggrocorp’s “Mercy.” They were testing a virus that would cause sterility. Their thinking was they were doing a humanitarian service by limiting the population so food could stretch further. But they tested it in food relief packages they delivered to starving people in Angola.
What they didn’t realize was that if a person had certain Antigens, the virus would turn into a mutant strain of Ebola, causing a quick death. Such was the case for a former security officer named Trent. He was there to guard the Aggrocorp shipments. He had brought his wife and child with him and they had all eaten the same food sent to the refugees. And while he didn’t have the Antigen, his wife and child did. They died and their bodies were burnt along all the other unfortunate souls who also carried the Antigen.
He wanted vengeance. First on Aggrocorp CEO, Corey Spagnola. After a visit from Trent, he met his demise poetically by eating his own virus contaminated food. But Trent wasn’t done. There was still Rick Cantos to get. So he assumed Spanola’s identity and headed to Freedom Unlimited.
Reporter Shelley Bly is in Rick Cantos’ Hamster Wheel, and she wants out. But it appears that only she and the man named Flynn is so inclined. They attempt to break down the door, but it is solid steel. All they accomplish is to get the attention of Santos himself who is just outside the room. He tells them that they should be like the others who are content in their circumstances. But if they MUST make attempts to escape, be quiet about it. After he leaves, Bly notices that the food chute only has a single locking mechanism. She believes she can jam it open and the hole is large enough for them to squeeze through.
Welcome to Freedom Unlimited
Meanwhile, Trent has made his way to Freedom Unlimited. Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t realize that someone as big as Corey Spagnola’s death didn’t go unnoticed. He is quickly spotted and has to fight his way out. Somewhere along the way he dons a special effects green suit to evade detection…at least for awhile. Eventually he is captured and taken into custody. They have questions for the Pseudo Spagnola. Like why did he kill the real Spagnola.
Two Hamsters Escape the Wheel
Back at the Hamster Wheel, Shelley fashions a tool out of a spork. Those things are Multifaceted. She uses it to jam the lock on the food chute door and opens it enough for her and Flynn to squeeze through. Before she escapes, Miss Executive in training tries to intervene. She is afraid having them escape might prevent her upward mobility. Shelley has no intention of letting Miss Power Suit stop her. So they escape and find themselves outside on the far side of the Island.
Issue Three Review:
The issue starts with the funeral of Corey Spagnola. All entrants were given digital Condolences, telling them sorry for their loss. Of course, what they really meant was that they were sorry that Aggrocorp Stock had taken a dip because of Spagnola’s demise. As for Trent, they still want to know why he killed Spagnola, but he isn’t talking. Even though they have went through their entire menu of interrogation selections including Potpourri. (I wonder if that involves strongly scented spices and wood chips?)
The Cave Man
Meanwhile, Shelley and Flynn are making their way across the beach trying to find a way off the island. He believes they will be able to just flag down a helicopter and fly away. Shelley doesn’t believe it will be that easy. As they traverse, Shelley expresses regret that she didn’t try harder to save the others. He tells her that they have made their choices long ago. As long as they are fed and paid, they are content in their cage. They eventually reach a cave that has a supply of fresh water. Their plan is to camp for the night and try to signal a passing aircraft in the morning. But before they can do anything else, a crazed looking man comes out of the cave. He is thrilled to see real people.
The REAL Question
Back with Trent, they are still having no luck getting him to talk. Finally Cantos himself storms in. He is talking tough about getting him to talk or he would tear him limb from limb. Of course, seeing as how Santo was built like Gilligan, that didn’t inspire any real fear for him. Trent made it clear that they really didn’t care why he killed Spagnola. Because of all the horrible things Santos and Ron Fang (the sleezy film Director) have done, just to make more money, the question they really want answered is why he didn’t kill THEM!
At the cave, the man tells them he has lived in his cave for five years. They are the first people he has seen since he has been there. When asked why he hadn’t tried to escape, he expressed his surprise. Why would he want to leave? The Island produces all he needs. Sometimes furniture washes ashore. He has plenty of lizards and seagulls to eat. And besides, there is no escape. This statement was much to the chagrin of Flynn. Cave guy tells him that because the Island is constantly moving, no one will find it.
Trent refuses to Answer
Santos is at wits end. Trent refuses to talk. He suggests they just kill him. Fang comes up with another clever solution. Let’s just talk to him. That’s so crazy, it might work. As for a Trent, he was more for Santos solution…Kill him. But Fang tells him all they want to know is why he killed Spagnola. He has to know that the world is falling apart. Only on their Island are they safe. If he just tells them what they want to know, they will consider it spilt milk. They will even hire him as security.
But Trent reminds him that the problems the world is facing is in no small part due to their actions. They have polluted the land and the oceans, killed endangered species, and with all their money, haven’t done anything to solve the problems. They just jumped on their luxury Island and left everyone else to fend for themselves. Fang realizes this is going no where and tells him the Chairman will decide his fate. He opens the door and the Chairman enters. A very well dressed Pitbull. Complete with phone earpiece and expensive watch.
Returning to the cave, Flynn is not handling this well. Cave guy notices this. He decides what Flynn needs is to get a visit from his wife. In a moment, he brings in a mannequin. He tells them she supports him and sits his wife, “Linda” next to Flynn, who has seen enough. He scrambles out of the cave saying he is going back. Shelley goes after him trying to get him to stop. But he is out of there, scrambling across the sand. He does not want to end up like Cave Guy.
Meeting the Chairman
So Trent has met the Chairman. Just when you think things are not weird enough. Fang explains that a wealthy man named Rutherford Chapps decided to leave his dog his entire fortune when he died. Somewhere along the line, according to the man’s will, business decisions were based on which dog bowl he selects. Millions of dollars were made based on his “decisions.” His good fortune proved to be hard for other investors to resist. Soon they were all following the “Chairman’s” recommendations. But in this case, they would let the Chairman decide his fate. Live or die all depends on which bowl he selects.
Finally, Flynn has found his way back to the Hamster Cage. The inhabitants helped him squeeze back in. He was grateful for being able to return. Apparently, as far as prisons go, it wasn’t that bad. As this chapter ends.
The further you get along in this tale, the more you can recognize current events shrouded in the tale’s fantastic story. The willingness of people to overlook many things in their search for wealth and personal gain. Their ability to accept their circumstances regardless of how unacceptable it should be for them. And the fact that there are always people who will refuse to accept the status quo regardless of the hardship it might cause them. Blessed are those people who are willing to rock the boat.
The idea of the “Chairman“ making life and death decisions, let alone decisions on investing of funds is so crazy that no wonder it works for them. Of course, they have no idea what is being done to the bowls to make the dog choose. Perhaps he has a preferred food that they only put in the bowl they want him to choose. Am I not giving the dog his respect? Perhaps not, but I have even less faith in people. Especially those with an agenda. Although, I have to admit, the Chairman is rocking his attire. I wonder who talks to him in his earpiece? Is it what actually makes his decisions? So many questions.
The artwork has been strong since the start and nothing has changed. Steve Pugh fills each panel with clean images and diverse panels that lead the reader about the page. When sleezy is required, his characters embody that look, i.e. Ron Fang. The same can be said for crazy…which in this case might include just about everyone in the story in one way or the other.
While this is a satire based story, the fact that so much of it reflects current events is so good…but at the same time so sad. It reflects people’s willingness to bend and submit even when every fiber in their being says they should rebel. Russell has imbibed the story with so many truths buried in the satire that it forces the reader to think. Which should be the main goal of any worthy story. So far, he has succeeded. Even IF society has apparently went to the “dogs.”
As always, the folks at Ahoy have added some extra stories. These include New Babel by Lonnie Nadler and Last Will and Testament of a Pop-Up Store by Robert Jeschonek. These text only tales will entertain as well as make one think. Also included is a recipe from our friend Pickle and his pantry from Ash and Thorn. You can’t beat Prophetic Berry Pie. Don’t Pass on these extras.
Have you followed the story of Ahoy Comics Billionaire Island? Issue three will be released Today. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a bit of time to catch up before reading the third chapter. If you have read it, share your thoughts in what has transpired so far with us at GeekVibesNation.
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 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.