A graphic narrative illuminates the atrocities of Joseph Kony in Central Africa, yet the horror and the complexities of the story are a challenge for such a short work.
The figures themselves are staggering: By 2011, Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army “had abducted at least 50,000 people and killed at least 12,000. No fewer than two million people in three countries had been displaced by Kony’s attacks.” Yet it took a viral video titled “Kony 2012” to stir massive public outrage, and even that was undermined when the head of the Invisible Children organization devoted to raising consciousness “cracked under the strain” of the attention. That provocative episode is given short shrift in the narrative, as is much else in a story of little more than 80 pages. Axe (War Is Boring, 2010, etc.) and Hamilton (Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation, 2009) don’t fully come to terms with Kony, though they do suggest the difficulty of such a challenge: “Dominated by its mysterious, volatile founder Joseph Kony and governed by a complex body of rules, customs and superstitions, the LRA is ostensibly a fundamentalist Christian religious movement, an army of God. In reality it bears no resemblance to Christian institutions elsewhere. Its methods are rape and pillage. Its major aim is to sustain itself.” The artistic rendering of rape and slaughter is as powerful as it is horrific, and the narrative hits hardest on an individual, human level in the chapter about a young girl, kidnapped by the LRA and forced into “marriage,” and the ongoing trauma after she was rescued at age 13.
There’s enough here to make concerned readers want to learn more about Kony, whose forces have dwindled even as he continues to elude capture, but the condensing of the graphic narrative falls short of the immensity of the barbarism.