For anyone even vaguely familiar with our current political climate, a story of corporate control of the government is not new. Termed “plutocracy,” a ruling class is able to derive governmental power from their wealth. Abraham Martinéz’s graphic novel, Plutocracy: Chronicles of a Global Monopoly, seeks to create lore behind the evolution of a plutocratic society. Set in 2051, the global government is run by the ambiguously named corporation The Company. Determined to uncover the true, unauthorized story behind how The Company came to power, an anonymous citizen begins his investigation.
The world of Plutocracy is a vision of a distinctly American dystopia. Though The Company is a global government system, our focus remains on the Western experience. Logistically, it is difficult to accept that one cohesive power, no matter how wealthy, would be able to control all countries, citizens, and cultures across the globe. However, Martinéz is not interested in providing a detailed analysis of The Company and its reach. Rather, he is interested in discussing the philosophical implications of being governed in a plutocratic society. Many, even today, could easily argue that the U.S. government is a plutocracy. Plutocracy takes a dive into what this means now—and what it could mean for the future.
While political junkies may be underwhelmed by the relatively introductory level of discourse, Plutocracy is an excellent primer on plutocratic systems. In fact, the economical writing style and ongoing narration often make the comic seem as if it intends to serve as a learning text, rather than a dramatic narrative. With this said, the writing is a bit dry in places and the unraveling mystery of The Company often lacks suspense. And, yet, I do believe that Plutocracy would serve as a great learning tool and is certain to prompt much discussion.
Similarly, many elements of the art in Plutocracy are sure to promote discussion. The world of the future is one of muted colors, emphasizing the lack of artistry and bleak worldview often associated with fascism. The logo of The Company is a constant presence throughout the book. This symbol, a combination of the hammer and sickle and the electronic start button, presents the disastrous combination of what Martinéz deems “social-capitalism,” in which the rights of a human are directly connected to how many company shares that individual owns. The artwork of Plutocracy is simultaneously overwhelming and repressive. Impossibly large spaces often contrast with small, dark corners. What Plutocracy may lack in the storyline is certainly compensated for in the artwork.
Abraham Martinéz is clearly a talented graphic novelist. Though Plutocracy is identified as a graphic novel for adults, it may serve better as a learning tool for older teens. Plutocracy is a great addition to a young adult collection. There is no content that may be viewed as unsuitable for teens, such as overt physical violence or sexuality. Plutocracy is a great introduction for anyone interested in learning about the deep, ever-strengthening relationship between capitalism and government. Those coming of age during this era of plutocratic government will find Plutocracy especially harrowing and poignant.
Plutocracy: Chronicles of a Global Monopoly
By Abraham Martinéz
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: American