Bad Machinery: Great Mysteries with Political Commentary

Continuing the teen mysteries theme from my last post, I’ve been reading a web comic called Bad Machinery by John Allison. Allison has been writing web comics for years including Bobbins and Scary Go Round. I have not read these previous series, although they apparently include some of the same characters. I’m planning to give them a try soon.

Bad Machinery explores supernatural mysteries that remind me of the American teen mystery stories like Nancy Drew, although it also reminds me a bit of the American cartoon, Scooby Doo. (However, unlike Scooby Doo where the villains are humans masquerading as supernatural beings, supernatural events actually are afoot in the web comic. Often, the mysteries address human greed, too.) Bad Machinery is set in a British town, “Tackleford” and follow the lives of a set of boys and girls in Grammar School (i.e., middle school in the U.S.). I love the fact that there are two main teams of crime solvers, a girls’ team and a boys’ team. However, the children on each team display a wide variety of gender roles. There are many adults in the comic, too. Bad Machinery includes social commentary on gender roles and many political topics from veganism to sports team ownership.

Yesterday’s comic is a great example of hegemonic ideology in a nutshell. In this book, Space is the Place, two of the young women are at a space camp provided by a company like Apple. In yesterday’s strip, the seeming CEO villain says, “When I give the planet over to its new masters, people won’t be screaming…they’ll be begging to be enslaved.” People have bought into the ideas of technology at any price, and possibly, technocracy. Furthermore, who gets to decide the future of the Earth?  Should it just be the power-elite? (If you didn’t answer no to that last question, then I’m worried.)

If you’re looking for a web comic that includes mystery, political commentary, interpersonal relationships, etc., then you should try out this comic. The webcomic is arranged as books, and I found that once I started to read one, I couldn’t put it down. I’d begin with The Short Preamble and go from there.

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Filed under Sociology, webcomics

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