Imagine a dystopian future where wide swaths of populace worship guns, where desert-beaten veterans return home deserted by the cause that sent them, and insurance companies protect governments against terrorist attacks. Does such a land sound conceivable? Enter the uncannily similar universe of area comic book author Steve Stormoen’s The Pros, in which a team of spies — an Iraq War veteran, a take-no-BS activist, a post-human, agender hacker, and a seven-PhD-holding Slavoj Žižek doppelgänger — are employed by a corporatized entity to help solve global crimes and crises.

Proactive Insurance: The Pros is a comic book with a conscience, free from the cheap veil and cape of contemporary corporate cartoon super heroism, and instead, smartly and squarely concerned with issues of today without pretense or platitudes. Stormoen came up with the idea while lying in bed one night, wondering how themes of privatization might revitalize classic comic genre stories. A fan of works like Warren Ellis’s and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan and Matt Fraction’s and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals, Stormoen was inspired by works that address the complexities of modern times. “Comics are in a really interesting place now, catching up to representing a multicultural America,” he said.

Working with award-winning Serbian illustrator Jelena Djordjevic, Stormoen tells his tale with a compassionate and empathetic lens, preferring to present the multifaceted aspects of pressing modern-day issues through a variety of at very human perspectives. A lifelong community organizer and activist, Stormoen’s works are in many ways drawn from life, and he brings to the storyboard a sensitive understanding of the diversity of opinion and emotion that deepen the heaviest political issues. “I want to raise interesting questions, not give my own answers. I don’t think there’s a single right answer,” he said on issues such as gun rights.

With two issues completed and nearly sold out, a third on its way, and the final fourth installment already funded, Stormoen’s works have clearly resonated with a readership. Engage your active mind in your recumbent hours with his thought-provoking work, a very worthwhile read for these troubling times.


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