The Divided States of Hysteria
An America sundered.An America enraged.An America terrified.An America shattered by greed and racism, violence and fear, nihilism and tragedy......and that's when everything really goes to hell.Collects the entire six-issue series by legendary creator HOWARD CHAYKIN.

The Divided States of Hysteria Details

TitleThe Divided States of Hysteria
Author
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherImage Comics
ISBN-139781534303836
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Fiction

The Divided States of Hysteria Review

  • James DeSantis
    January 1, 1970
    If there was a zero star option this would get it. The divided states of hysteria is bad. In every possible way. It's not just a bad story, because it is, but the art is TERRIBLE. It's hard to read, follow, and enjoy at all. I'm all for artist/writers expressing their opinion on current political affairs even if I don't agree. IN here Howard takes the largest sterotypes and places them on every character. It's his views on the world and how it's heading and what's happening. Stories such as a bu If there was a zero star option this would get it. The divided states of hysteria is bad. In every possible way. It's not just a bad story, because it is, but the art is TERRIBLE. It's hard to read, follow, and enjoy at all. I'm all for artist/writers expressing their opinion on current political affairs even if I don't agree. IN here Howard takes the largest sterotypes and places them on every character. It's his views on the world and how it's heading and what's happening. Stories such as a bunch of people fucking a prostitute who is a trans and then the prostitute is the one getting arrested. Another of a black man shooting a bunch of white people and then going to jail. Another of a bunch of woman, pregnant, blowing themselves up in the middle of a busy city. What this it all add to? What's it talking about? Nothing. It's like a empty story that tries to begin to pick up steam by adding in a detective and the president trying to figure it all out, the hysteria part, but it's so awfully done you can't help but laugh. The art is horrendous. You have twitter/text blobs all over the background of the page to say we're stuck on social media (get it guys, cause it's hip). Everybody in here is ugly and looks gritty for the sake of being gritty. Less said about this terrible art design the better. The story is written by someone who is honestly out of touch with reality if you ask me. It's like a guy who writes about what he HEARS instead of experiences. I honestly don't recommend this to anyone. This is by far the worst book I read of the year, and might be top 10 worst books I've ever read. A 0 out of 5.
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  • Kenny
    January 1, 1970
    The William Blake of comics did it again. Trust him to dissect the zeitgeist of this Trumpian times.
  • Alex Sarll
    January 1, 1970
    Howard Chaykin’s recent work seems to have veered ever closer to being a pure howl of rage and fear at the state of the world, the short-sighted choices and squandered chances which have brought humanity to such a desperate situation. Like Midnight of the Soul, Divided States shows us a moment in which the worst of human nature is all too easy to see, albeit one in the worryingly near future rather than the all-too-recent past. As such, it brings back a sense of information overload, a deliberat Howard Chaykin’s recent work seems to have veered ever closer to being a pure howl of rage and fear at the state of the world, the short-sighted choices and squandered chances which have brought humanity to such a desperate situation. Like Midnight of the Soul, Divided States shows us a moment in which the worst of human nature is all too easy to see, albeit one in the worryingly near future rather than the all-too-recent past. As such, it brings back a sense of information overload, a deliberately cluttered design and a blur of where art ends and lettering begins that’s more reminiscent of his early work, and in particular American Flagg!, than the cleaner style, almost pulp pastiche, in which he’s tended to work recently. Also like Midnight of the Soul, it's a deliberately abrasive piece, unflinching in showing the worst of what people say and do to each other. And inevitably, given some people’s tendency to take depiction for endorsement, that was always going to get him into trouble sooner or later. But it remains curious that the plot element to kick off the shitstorm was the one he’s taken the most trouble to hedge around and emphasise as Very Much Not OK. Yes, the first issue did see one of the characters – a trans sex worker – take a beating from some piece of shit clients, and yes that in itself could be considered an example of an overplayed and unpleasant trope. But bear in mind that her narration for that scene establishes the culpability of TERF columnists as much as macho pricks in making her life more dangerous; that she gets her own back, the only justifiable crime among those which initially get the Dirty (half-)Dozen-style protagonists incarcerated; and that the book will go on to establish, repeatedly and forcefully, that misgendering is a dick move. Ah well; if nothing else, the furore will serve to confirm Chaykin’s view of a world where “The right desperately seeks to blame the other – any other – for their misfortunes, while the left devours its own in a grotesque parody of Stalinist party purity.” Which means his next book will be even more furious, and given the period pieces had been getting a little more stale, that’s no bad thing.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    This is written and drawn by a guy who "fought the good fight" but is way out of touch with reality. I sincerely believe he was well intentioned (which comes from a privileged stance) but this wasn't a story he should be telling. Most of the marginalized world know how bad it was, is and will be. Even when he makes the main character (and abused Trans woman) the hero and quite capable--it's still too raw and real. I wanted to give Chaykin the benefit of the doubt, and that people were overreacti This is written and drawn by a guy who "fought the good fight" but is way out of touch with reality. I sincerely believe he was well intentioned (which comes from a privileged stance) but this wasn't a story he should be telling. Most of the marginalized world know how bad it was, is and will be. Even when he makes the main character (and abused Trans woman) the hero and quite capable--it's still too raw and real. I wanted to give Chaykin the benefit of the doubt, and that people were overreacting but it is a truly sundered, enraged, terrified and nihilistic work that is garnished with racism, violence, and misogyny. Chaykin doesn't celebrate them--but, wow does he feel compelled to show it. This book made me feel dirty and a bit ashamed. Even on the "artistic side" Chaykin largely fails. He's always had a divisivw style. It's very busy--and unfortunately the digital era has done him no favors. It's hard read due to the lettering and graphics, and the sheer pessimism and cynicism make it a walk over broken glass. It's an abrasive piece with the message seeming to be...“The right desperately seeks to blame the other – any other – for their misfortunes, while the left devours its own in a grotesque parody of Stalinist party purity.” That was an interesting insight, yet there isn't an ultimate payoff for all the obscenity and provocateur to justify the problematic aspects. The only consolation is that the trade has "Coming Soon" for Time^2: Hallowed Ground. That's Chaykin at his most personal and least provacateuring.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Deliberately provocative, but not much payoff unless you are a Howard Chaykin fan. I'll be reviewing it for the website No Flying, No Tights.
  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Had to start this over. Got 26 pages in the other day and gave up. Was too complex, too many characters, places, threads, for that evening. Was better this morning.
  • Paul Allard
    January 1, 1970
    Dramatic and violent depiction of terrorist attacks on the US – and its aftermathHoward Chaykin tells a serious and pessimistic tale about terrorist attacks on the US and the consequences of such an attack. Using a “Dirty Dozen” type theme, he depicts an awful society with no redeeming or sympathetic characters. With much violence, blood-letting, swearing and sexual scenes, this comic collection will not be for everyone!The plot is wordy with a lot to read and it's well-illustrated in Chaykin's Dramatic and violent depiction of terrorist attacks on the US – and its aftermathHoward Chaykin tells a serious and pessimistic tale about terrorist attacks on the US and the consequences of such an attack. Using a “Dirty Dozen” type theme, he depicts an awful society with no redeeming or sympathetic characters. With much violence, blood-letting, swearing and sexual scenes, this comic collection will not be for everyone!The plot is wordy with a lot to read and it's well-illustrated in Chaykin's unique square-jawed style. Recommended to his fans and to anyone who has an already-jaded view of American society.
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  • Colin
    January 1, 1970
    Set aside the author's clear effort to be as edgy as he can, and you're left with a book that is still pretty much literally unreadable in terms of flow, narrative, and in large part because of some of the most ridiculously busy illustrations I've ever seen in a comic. It's like staring at ten tv's simultaneously, all flipping at random between a mix of blaxpoitation movies, South Park episodes, and Fox News.
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    The Divided States of Hysteria (2017): written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin: Legendary comic writer-artist Howard Chaykin stirred up controversy when The Divided States of Hysteria came out in single-issue form in 2017. Much of the flack came from the Left, an odd turn of events because Chaykin is vocally left-wing and has been for decades. But he's also been an expert at making readers uncomfortable for decades now. For example, he caused the late Harlan Ellison to have a world-class freak The Divided States of Hysteria (2017): written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin: Legendary comic writer-artist Howard Chaykin stirred up controversy when The Divided States of Hysteria came out in single-issue form in 2017. Much of the flack came from the Left, an odd turn of events because Chaykin is vocally left-wing and has been for decades. But he's also been an expert at making readers uncomfortable for decades now. For example, he caused the late Harlan Ellison to have a world-class freak-out with his revisionist Shadow miniseries in the mid-1980's, a book which logically pointed out that the Shadow was a fascist sociopath and then ran with it all the way to awesomeness.The Divided States of Hysteria is a near-future dystopia in which much of the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government died in a terrorist attack before the book's narrative begins. Rather than offer a bipartisan fantasy of a perfect President within this scenario, as Designated Survivor does, Chaykin instead offers more chaos, horror, incompetence, and a group of "heroes" who make the Dirty Dozen look about as scary as the goddam Goonies.At the heart of a lot of complaints, I think, is Chaykin's ability to make violence and fascist tendencies look attractive. It's sort of the point -- as some wag once pointed out, a lot of comic-book superheroes are fascistic, anti-government sociopaths. Or would be, if they were real. But isn't fun to watch them solve things with punches and explosions?At the heart, though, of those complaints is also the inability of many people, left or right, to separate the representation of something from advocacy of that same thing, along with a a pronounced and escalating ability to take offense at anything that isn't pablum. Bland, inoffensive pablum. You're mean, Early! How dare you draw the aftermath of a completely plausible 21st-century American lynching AND PUT IT ON YOUR COVER! Identity politics also requires that one of the two people closest to being a hero in The Divided States of Hysteria, as a trans woman, SHOULD NOT BE REPRESENTED BY A HETEROSEXUAL WHITE MALE CARTOONIST!!!But she is a great character. And dead sexy.At one point, female terrorists detonate dirty bombs they've had implanted in their wombs. This is not a pretty scenario. I imagine Tom Clancy vomiting with rage somewhere. So too someone on the Left. Chaykin has decided to find ways to horrify the reader, and the same old beheadings and IED attacks and marathon bombings have lost the power to shock. They're becoming background noise.In order to stop America's enemies -- and redeem his own devastated reputation, and avenge the deaths of his mistress and wife and family in a terrorist attack -- a disgraced CIA operative puts together a team of four convicted murderers. They're up against a cadre of terrorist leaders and a Russian operative and the incompetence of their own country's government. The President they're working for, a replacement from the Cabinet's lowest levels, is a compromised hack. So five misfits.... well, 'misfit' is a bit of a misnomer. Besides our CIA protagonist, our heroes are a trans man who killed three clients in self-defence, a mob hitman with a serial-killing hobby, a criminal accountant who murdered a couple of dozen rich people with poison, and an African-American serial-killing sniper who's a really good shot and loves shooting white civilians in the head.The Challengers of the Unknown these are not. Challengers of the Unthinkable, maybe.The violence is horrifying. The art is slick and gorgeous and horrifyingly clinical at atimes. The 'sound-design' from letterer Ken Bruzenak is fascinating enough that it gets its own 4-page explanatory essay at the back of the volume. Over it all hangs a question Chaykin has been asking and answering for a long time in his work -- are these the heroes you want? Because this is what they would really look like.I mean, there are other questions. And the whole thing, complete with the cynical 'voice' of an omniscient narrator running along with the narrative, is a compelling action narrative, blood-soaked and morally dubious. But it's also a compelling examination of the heroism people love when it's sanitized in everything from James Bond movies to daily news reports of Seal Team 6 and Our Brave Black Ops Boys in Afghanistan. And I haven't even delved into the sexual and racial politics explored throughout! The Divided States of America delves into an America besotted with sex and violence, sometimes at the same time, sometimes as the same thing. Along with the narration comes a recurring series of images of death and horror from various American sites. The terrorist groups themselves are a mixed bag too -- an All-Star, Dream Team-up of White Supremacy and Black Power and Islamicism, coordinated by a Russian operative who's also a Hollywood movie producer. It's doom alone that counts, all moving towards a final attack on a telethon for a wounded America, complete with the President, to be destroyed by the same groups who are also the event's public donors.It's not so much that the satire and the violence both blister. It's that the entire book seems entirely plausible. Chaykin's been examining the puritanical, pornographic nature of American culture for decades. The American love of violence as a solution, and the attendant separation of the world into Good and Evil, Us and Them. Now all accompanied by the eternal chatter of social media.Bang bang, screw screw, shoot shoot. Highly recommended.
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    Capitalism is often ferreted out as the most intuitive error of modern man. And yet, what bears greater scrutiny is not so much capitalism-the-ideal, but capitalism-the-corollary. That is to say, defining the boundaries of structural idiosyncrasies masked as ideology, and understanding the chain reactions that inhabit (or inhibit) the cultural awareness that invariably follows. Is this why THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA was so easy to hate when it was initially published by Image Comics? Because Capitalism is often ferreted out as the most intuitive error of modern man. And yet, what bears greater scrutiny is not so much capitalism-the-ideal, but capitalism-the-corollary. That is to say, defining the boundaries of structural idiosyncrasies masked as ideology, and understanding the chain reactions that inhabit (or inhibit) the cultural awareness that invariably follows. Is this why THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA was so easy to hate when it was initially published by Image Comics? Because it exposed the ugliest parts of a country one does not know, by way of the ugliest parts of a country one does? The garrulous and the defamatory, as with all things, are a smokescreen. So are the dick jokes, the racism, and the dutifully truthful assessment that pretty much everybody is an asshole, once you get to know them. Alas, the largest looming threat to western cultural mores rests not in the individuation of ignoble off-the-shelf ideology but in the civil conglomeration of those who are disenfranchised (real or imagined).Such is the understanding of Frank Villa, a CIA field officer whose error in judgement was a failure to regard that most corrosive human sentiment of all: free will. When a terrorist winds north to NYC instead of taking the expected track to D.C., a few million Americans get nuked. This is not the fault of Frank, per se, but seeing as he was the one tracking the terrorists, he quickly becomes the most hated man in the country.And that's where THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA truly begins. Frank recruits four criminals whose ties to the underworld had an accidental hand in the leveling of NYC. Not an entirely original subplot, but since Frank's new teammates include a transgender sex worker, a money launderer, a race-guided vigilante, and a hitman, nothing is guaranteed. Good luck, Frank.Nothing exposes the compromise of the American Dream like positing murderers and prostitutes in opposition to millionaire nationalists and hostile foreign intelligence officers. Or so the story goes. The irony curdling in the stomach of readers, however, is that the rich foreigners seeking to destroy America, no matter how different their personal ideologies, get along swimmingly. It's the specially designed team of criminals trying to save the good ol' U.S. of A. that's constantly at its own throat. One would think that bullets, tasers, and well-timed choke holds are all that separate one faction from the other, but it's the opposite. . .This book is a lot better than it deserves to be. Chaykin's narrative approach is astonishingly intricate, layering disaffected criminality on top of prideful vengeance in such a way that neither notion seems either good or bad until there's a bullet in the back of somebody's skull. It's true that Frank is a character always searching for a way to make amends. Too bad for him, nobody cares.Visually, the book is pure chaos -- deliberate chaos -- in a way that is truly difficult to explain. Page gutters are packed with inlaid text, curse words, excerpts of inflammatory social media content, and prayers for a quick end. The skies in the background of nearly every America-based location are loaded with armed drones, stealth fighters, and other customized aerial death machines. And the dialogue is constantly moving, shifting, rerouting reader attention to the economics, the politics, and the intellectual theft that binds the polyphony together all nice and neat. Chaykin's desire for THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA, no doubt, was to reveal the cacophony that drowns out the homegrown benevolence one takes for granted. Indeed, the "noise" is horribly annoying and bothersome . . . until it isn't. By the second or third issue, it's no longer a problem, it's just another part of the book. It's just the way things are.As well-written as the book is, there are a couple, tangible flaws. Chaykin's external narrator doesn't appear regularly enough to possess a reliable voice. This fact influences the gravity of said narrator's chosen words (often to the point of overselling the point). It's the only major obstacle to reading the book in one fluid motion. Similarly, word balloons and text boxes tend to clutter and conflict. While the phantom "noise" should make things difficult, the dictum of the narrative must always be crystal clear. In the end, THE DIVIDED STATES OF HYSTERIA will never be mistaken for being the prettiest book about social unrest and the upheaval of the western cultural paradigm, but perhaps it doesn't need to be.
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  • Norman Cook
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book that has something to offend everyone. It is not a book to read for simple entertainment; Chaykin expects his readers to think. Whether you agree or disagree with his viewpoints, you have to think. That is the hallmark of literature.This is a graphic story in every sense. Explicit sex and violence grace every page. Moreover, you can't skim over anything; the text and the art combine into a whole that you must pay attention to. I found myself having to reread several pages to make This is a book that has something to offend everyone. It is not a book to read for simple entertainment; Chaykin expects his readers to think. Whether you agree or disagree with his viewpoints, you have to think. That is the hallmark of literature.This is a graphic story in every sense. Explicit sex and violence grace every page. Moreover, you can't skim over anything; the text and the art combine into a whole that you must pay attention to. I found myself having to reread several pages to make sure I understood what was happening. Small details matter.There are a lot of characters to keep track of. The transitions between scenes are often abrupt, sometimes with overlaying text or dialog. This is a technique used in TV and film, but one not often used in comics. This story is best read as a single volume, not as individual comic book issues.Most of the characters, both antagonists and protagonists, are bad people. That bad people sometimes do good things is part of the point of the story. That even good people sometimes make horrendous mistakes is also part of the story.If you're willing to set aside your prejudices, either right-leaning or left-leaning, and read this with an open mind, you'll be rewarded with an action thriller ala 24 with a dose of The Dirty Dozen. This is a story that is controversial precisely because it is so close to a plausible near future, a future that many don't want to think about (perhaps even a future that is already here).Note: I read this as individual comic book issues, but at one sitting.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Divided States of Hysteria is a tough nut to crack. The "Dirty Dozen"-style gathering of our "heroes," who unleash all manner of racist, sexist, xenophobic transgressions on one another, was a fascinating peek into the contemptuous underbelly of how Americans view one another and how we alternatively defy and embrace the labels put upon us. The artwork is detailed and packed full of an overwhelming static of non-information. I was morbidly fascinated by these aspects of the series.The plot, howe Divided States of Hysteria is a tough nut to crack. The "Dirty Dozen"-style gathering of our "heroes," who unleash all manner of racist, sexist, xenophobic transgressions on one another, was a fascinating peek into the contemptuous underbelly of how Americans view one another and how we alternatively defy and embrace the labels put upon us. The artwork is detailed and packed full of an overwhelming static of non-information. I was morbidly fascinated by these aspects of the series.The plot, however, felt somehow underdeveloped. Villa's leads were thin, the terrorist plot lacked menace, and the big finale landed with a thud. And ultimately all of that feels extraneous to, even distracting from, the thrust of the characters' struggle to collaborate with one another while dehumanizing each other with each and every sentence.I definitely think Chaykin's pursuing something that needs to be said here, but I'm not sure it comes across as effectively as I think was intended.
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  • Senor
    January 1, 1970
    Ugh! Save your time and do not bother with this mess.I do not recall why I added this to my comic subscriptions but I wish I had read issue 1 and cancelled. It's not the controversy about issue four's cover or even the subject matter, it's simply that the book is a hot mess. The layout/pages are so cluttered and choppy that I struggled to follow the semblance of a storyline and had it not been pathetically simplistic I would have lost the thread. Confusing, jumbled, disjointed do not do justice Ugh! Save your time and do not bother with this mess.I do not recall why I added this to my comic subscriptions but I wish I had read issue 1 and cancelled. It's not the controversy about issue four's cover or even the subject matter, it's simply that the book is a hot mess. The layout/pages are so cluttered and choppy that I struggled to follow the semblance of a storyline and had it not been pathetically simplistic I would have lost the thread. Confusing, jumbled, disjointed do not do justice to describe how awful this book is. The fact that the writer must continually put the names under his main antagonists demonstrates that even he appreciates that the reader will not be scratching there head going - who is that again?I do not want to waste more time writing a review having already lost the time I spent reading this drek.
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  • Jeff Raymond
    January 1, 1970
    If I’m being honest with myself, I picked up this graphic novel entirely due to the controversy surrounding it. There is a cover of one of the middle issues that garnered some criticism (unwarranted given the context, in my opinion) and the graphic novel itself seems less reliant on story and more on pushing the shock envelope through politically-charged imagery anyway. It’s a problem with most message-related reads, and this one is no different. I hate that I spent much time on this one at all If I’m being honest with myself, I picked up this graphic novel entirely due to the controversy surrounding it. There is a cover of one of the middle issues that garnered some criticism (unwarranted given the context, in my opinion) and the graphic novel itself seems less reliant on story and more on pushing the shock envelope through politically-charged imagery anyway. It’s a problem with most message-related reads, and this one is no different. I hate that I spent much time on this one at all, to be frank.
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  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    A controversial comic that contains graphic depictions of racist & transphobic violence. I think those depictions & the story express a polemical dread of rising ultraright violence in the U.S. & the transwoman character is set-up as the most admirable & intriguing in this blackly-humorous farce, but many people disagree. I'd only recommend reading this if, like me, you're also fond of late Chaykin (*Century West* & *Midnight of the Soul*) &/or the better late Frank Mille A controversial comic that contains graphic depictions of racist & transphobic violence. I think those depictions & the story express a polemical dread of rising ultraright violence in the U.S. & the transwoman character is set-up as the most admirable & intriguing in this blackly-humorous farce, but many people disagree. I'd only recommend reading this if, like me, you're also fond of late Chaykin (*Century West* & *Midnight of the Soul*) &/or the better late Frank Miller (*All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder* & *Sin City 2*).
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  • Wim Dewilde
    January 1, 1970
    I was curious to find out what this comic was about.It appears to have been about how a good ol' bit of controversy can put a plainly poorly written & drawn comic into the spotlights.Presenting some current issues with the dial turned up to eleven could have been the backdrop for some solid storytelling, but it was not to be I suppose...Looking at the drawings, I pitied the people who had to embellish & colour this mess.
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  • Lukas Holmes
    January 1, 1970
    I'll readily admit that it is possible I did not give this a fair shake. After 20 pages I simply gave up. Our time in existence is too short to spend it with the sort of troubling, unnecessary fetishism that was overwhelming in this.
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    A dense, layered story that addresses the deep schisms within American society while telling a dystopian geopolitical cautionary tale. Loads of sex and violence Chaykin-style to keep the blood pumping while the concepts feed the brain. A good read overall.
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  • Derrick
    January 1, 1970
    2 1/2 stars.
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