In the modern day, technology is a common part of every day life, to the point that many people would be lost without it. Social media is a major presence, connecting everyone at all times, though it can be a double-edged sword. What would happen if your privacy was invaded and you were watched 24/7 by the kind of technology that you placed your faith in? That question forms the basis of Stefan Gutternigh’s The Common Good. The cyberpunk comic is set in 2035, where a totalitarian world government regulates the lives of its citizens by monitoring them. Themes of isolation, loss of privacy and societal manipulation are explored in a chilling tale. Gutternigh sent a copy of The Common Good to The Comic Vault in exchange for an honest review.
The Global Organisation for The Common Good (GOCG) is a governing body that uses a mixture of social media, cameras and drones to watch people in order to enforce the law and make sure they use their ‘designated quota’ every day. This is also done through the use of iPads – implanted body implants that gives the GOCG access to private information. A GOCG agent, Cindy Karuso, visits a man known as Mr Berger to make sure he’s leading a fulfilling life.
The conversation begins as a friendly check-up, though Karuso goes into detail about the amount of hours that Mr Berger hasn’t used on a specific task. For example, she tells him that his washing machine hasn’t been turned on for eight days. This extends to not playing enough video games either, which is considered a pleasurable activity by a lot of people.
Berger gets more and more agitated, with Karuso informing him that he needs to pay a ‘price’ for his lack of care. Berger’s pet cat is dragged into the encounter and Karuso takes action in a way that’s reminiscent of an episode of Black Mirror. I found myself thinking of the show several times when reading the comic because it shows a situation where technology has taken over in a negative way.
The tense pacing of the comic builds suspense, as a regular house call quickly turns into a sinister affair. The themes of The Common Good are relatable, due to society being so dependent on social media. Socialism and the pursuit of happiness become alternative meanings for oppression through the technology that GOCG employs.
The art is done in black and white, which worked for the bleak setting. Text boxes and speech are presented in a sparse kind of font that I thought was clever, though it could be difficult to read on occasion.
The Common Good is a relevant, politically-charged story that feels like a modern retelling of 1984. Gutternigh is running a Kickstarter campaign around the comic, so be sure to check it out to find out what kind of rewards are available for being involved.