Thin Blue Line follows Officer Val Baca, as she protects her community in Hagen, Illinois while also trying to raise her little girl as a single mother.
After a police shooting, raging mobs burn down the city as Officer Val and her partner fight to save their community, and for their own survival. Thin Blue Line is a gripping and entertaining story that offers an unblinking look at human fallibility on every level. The story tells the harrowing journey of two law enforcement officers who must fight for their community and their own survival in a world gone mad.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Written by two-time Eisner-Award and Inkpot Award-winning writer Mike Baron, best known for his acclaimed five-year run on Marvel Comics’ very first ongoing series of The Punisher, along with DC’s The Flash and Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars titles. He has expertly crafted a story ripped from today’s headlines that humanizes the unsung, villainized beat cops on the front lines of one of the most politically polarizing topics in 21st-century America while delivering exciting action and drama without resorting to telling political sermons.
Active duty police officer Joseph Arnold worked on pencils & layouts, and illustrator Jeff Slemons worked on the finishes and inks. Colorwork was handled by Ichsan Ansori and letterer Warren Montgomery, an accomplished comic artist himself, brought Baron’s words to life. The book also includes cover art by special guest artist Sergio Cariello (Daredevil, The Action Bible), a blazing cover by Butch Guice (Action Comics, Alpha Flight), and Adam Miller. Pin-up art is done by Deputy Sheriff Dan Demille and character art by Joseph Arnold. Chris Braly was the editor of the project.
Thin Blue Line is a 64-page colored book with a particular soft cover. On the inside cover we start with a credits page, the main story is told on 56 numbered pages followed by a page with the biographies of the main creative team, 3 pages with cover art, A pin-up art page, and a black and white painting of officer Baca. The book ends with a short description of the police-related charitable organizations that received part of the proceeds from the publication. The graphic novel also has a printed spine and was published by Big Studios. Why is this book so particularly interesting in these times?
Even though the mainstream is so into diversity and gender equality, mainstream comic publishers haven’t featured female cops as the main protagonist in decades since 1975 when Lady Copy from DC 1st Issue #4 was published with officer Liza Warner as the main lead. The title was never picked up for a series and the character wouldn’t appear in DC Comics again for over thirty years. Thin Blue Line is an action drama targeted at young adults offering another perspective on law enforcement and the community it serves.
The story starts with a great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu showdown between a man and a woman in a gym. The woman wins the friendly fight. Then we see the woman getting picked up by a man, getting home, and taking care of her little daughter. That same night while watching TV they announce that the rioting taking place will continue with the Major ordering the police to stand down and give the protestors space to destroy. Her daughter is disturbed by the news but she manages to keep her mind distracted. The next day we see the woman preparing to go to work in a police uniform. The man that picked her up at the gym was her partner Three Jays.
It’s the middle of a long hot summer, a cop shoots a suspect, and the incident makes the national news. Cities across the country quickly erupt into violence and well-organized activist groups mix in with opportunists and provocateurs who begin to riot, loot, burn, and kill right after the Major’s speech. Officer Valeria Baca along with Sergeant Bob Mack, is in charge of guarding the mayor which turns into a fight for survival. Lieutenant Mikkelson assists them with their now challenging mission.
Mobs burn down city hall, forcing the officers to improvise on the run, relying only on their training and wits as the mayor’s protestations and eagerness to placate the rioters prove fruitless. They encounter one of those mobs as they infiltrated the protestors’ group. One of them viciously attacks one of the protestors. They are there to create problems and ruin the protest and the city. They overpower officer Baca and lead her into a destroyed store.
There she finds her partner Three Jays. Officer Baca takes advantage of an opportunity to distract and take down one of the mobsters showing off her fighting skills. They are helped by the owner of the store who happens to be black and clearly points out how there was no discrimination by the mobsters when it came to destroying the businesses in the area. Later on, the officers continue navigating through the troubled city. Will the city survive?
Thin Blue Line is a gripping and engaging story that offers an unblinking look at human mistakes on every level. Readers will follow the difficult journey of law enforcement officers who must fight for their community and their own survival in a world gone mad. It doesn’t shy away from the corruption within the police force. Officer Mack tells her how he was afraid to denounce her partner Three Jays on his first week at work. It shows how there is a toxic corruptive environment where honesty is not welcomed.
It also shows how Val, a single mom, takes care of her daughter which is something I loved to see. It’s a similar feeling I had with Miss Fury: Joy Division. It is okay for a woman to embrace motherhood while doing her best to be able to defend herself and be a role model for other women. It would be great to have a father present but even though the situation is tough she makes it work while giving her best.
The infiltration of rioters into the protest was an interesting angle in the story. They technically receive an open invitation from the Major. It was difficult to see it illustrated but it’s necessary. The rioters and protestors were not the same, but the media didn’t make any distinction. It also showed the destruction of the property of black business owners by the rioters. In reality that also happened during the BLM protest and only a few media outlets covered those stories. Why?
In my opinion, the infiltration is something protestors in general need to be more aware of to prevent tragedies and organize a stand-up against those groups. Very much what the Dutch did during the farmer’s protest last year and their fight still continue. They faced a lot, from infiltration to massive standups. Their struggle still continues. Not to forget the Canadian Freedom convoy protests and the periodical brutal protests in France under President Macron since 2018. The escalation is what the governments want to justify their drastic measures.
THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
This graphic novel was offered in two formats, depending on the tier you choose to back on Kickstarter or Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, a digital eBook or a premium paperback. In addition to the book, the campaign also offered opportunities to make a real difference in communities across the United States. With the tier “Adopt a Cop” a portion of every contribution would be donated to one or more of the following police assistance programs:
- Adopt A Cop BJJ (train officers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (improves officer safety & honors the fallen)
- The National Fallen Officer Foundation (helps families of officers slain in the line of duty)
The digital version was completed and delivered very early on after I backed the Indiegogo campaign. The tracking number for the physical perks was timely provided and they arrived safe and sound with proper packaging.
The physical perks I got included in addition to the 2 versions of the graphic novels I chose:
- A creative team signature card
- 3 exclusive trading cards
- An ad for 2 upcoming projects
- A commemorative thin blue line flag sticker
- A custom metal ride-along challenge coin commemorating the graphic novel, and honoring law enforcement officers
Thin Blue Line is a deeply engaging story that offers a stunning rebuke of the U.S. Antifa group and the “Defund The Police” movement from the United States. You clearly understand how the situation changes when the rioters join the protest and how it could have been prevented by the Major by simply not inviting them so openly. And you also see the irony of how much value defunding the police has when protection is needed. That thought flies out of the window.
A better slogan could have been “Reform The Police”. The Rule of Law is needed. If it has corrupted agents which almost every police organization has, they should be easily removed with establishes rules and regulations that support open conversation and whistleblowing. The story is pro-blue, but there is a lot more nuance to it than expected since it could have very easily been antagonistic. It shows the imperfections of the police force, but it also shows the regular life of police offers and their drive to protect.
Remember how the story started with the Jiu-Jitsu showdown? Later in the story, Val uses her gained skills to show how proper training can be beneficial for law enforcement officers. Honor, duty, sacrifice, and solidarity are values that should be elevated by law enforcement. Always defend the citizen and not be a puppet for wealthy corporations and the government. Maybe these can be part of “Reform the Police”?
I like the art on pages 5, 20, 32, 47-49, and 50-51, however, I found the art on page 54 a little inconsistent. I’m referring to the transition of Val’s face from the first panel to the last one on the page. Maybe it’s normal? What do I know? It’s just looking a little bit weird. This action drama is a great story to share and discuss. As of date the crowdfunding campaign is closed, and the graphic novel is available on thinbluelinecomics.com. Check it out!
The campaign for the sequel “Thun Blue Line: Revolving Door” is scheduled for winter 2023.