“Hacktivist” tells of government attempts to silence transparency and civil liberties advocates by abusing technology and the public’s privacy in general.
Out this week is the long-anticipated print edition of the comic book “Hacktivist” by American actress Alyssa Milano, which tells the story of two people who co-founded a fictional social media networking company, and just so happen to also be part of the largest hacking group in the world.
According to Comic Book Resources, “The story follows Ed Hiccox and Nate Graft, the young founders of the world’s most innovative social media company who moonlight secretly as one of the most notorious black-hat hacker teams on the planet. When the U.S. government discovers their operation, they must face the real world beyond the code and choose between loyalty and what they believe to be is right.”
With a multi-ethnic cast, including a prominent young female character, “Hacktivist” tells the story about government attempts to silence those advocating for transparency and civil liberties by abusing technology and the public’s privacy in general.
Set in several locations around the world, it explores social justice and political issues, such as the fight for political freedom in Tunisia, as well as privacy concerns.
Widely known for her roles on hit television shows such as “Who’s the Boss?”, “Charmed,” and currently“Mistresses,” Milano surprised the hacktivist community last year when she began to encourage her fans on Twitter to join the Stop Online Piracy Act movement and protect online freedom in the name of political freedom.
“[‘Hacktivist’ is a] time stamp of where we are, not only the role computers and social networking play in our daily world, but also in the big global scheme of things,” Milano said.
The actress, producer and philanthropist says what inspired her to create the comic book was when she began to wonder if Anonymous was really just one guy — who was completely savvy when it came to coding, politics and social justice issues — who used an illusion of a group effort as a front.
“I’m very involved with in global activism and philanthropy. I like the idea of everyday people doing good,” Milano said. “My inspiration for “Hacktivist” is actually Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter and Square.”
A family friend of Milano’s, the actress said she pictures Dorsey “leaving the office at night and going home, where he locks himself in his room and starts hacking to change the world.”
Though Milano’s fan base has largely grown from her work on television, she says she opted to use a comic book to tell her story since there are “no boundaries” like she would have experienced with television and film.
The comic book may seem like atypical work for the star, but Milano says she “became obsessed with the role social media was playing in social issues throughout the world, and how it was being used as a tool to get people motivated and basically organized for these protests all over the world.
“I then became obsessed with Anonymous and what they were doing and how hacking seemed to be its own type of warfare—sort of the freedom movement of the computer world where they were really trying to do what they could possibly do to make the world a better place in their view,” she said.
With the help of artist Marcus To, who is the monthly “Batwing” artist for DC Comics, and writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, Milano’s team has already finished four issues of the “Hacktivist” series.
Landzing said what’s unique about this comic book is that it tells a “relevant story that isn’t distracted by superpowers or science fiction tropes,” but instead is a current story with relatable characters. Kelly added that while Milano knew a lot of the ins and outs of hacking, social media and about Anonymous, they worked with several hackers to make the book as accurate as possible.
According to Stephen Christy, vice president of Development for Archaia, “‘Hacktivist’ is literally ripped from headlines,” and is a story “focusing on the benefit and consequences of our increasingly connected world.”
“Hacktivist” was released in a digital format last fall, but the first print editions will be available Jan. 22.