Memetic #1 (of 3)
Written by James Tynion IV (@JamesTheFourth)
Illustrated by Eryk Donovan (@ErykDonovan)
Colors by Adam Guzowski (@Adam_Guzowski)
Letters by Jim Campbell (@CampbellLetters)
Published by BOOM! Studios
The Apocalypse is nigh and it comes in the form of the demonic #GoodTimesSloth meme. (I say demonic not because there’s a supernatural aspect to it but because it LOOKS like it’s pure evil. LOOK AT THAT SLOTH. LOOK AT IT. EVIL.)
This generation of Interweb users are no strangers to meme sensations that seem to appear almost weekly at this point. A picture coupled with a witty or not so witty caption and we’re all hooked. Suddenly it’s everywhere and in the next week it’s gone. Writer James Tynion IV (The Woods, Batman Eternal, Talon) and artist Eryk Donovan take this phenomenon to a whole other level in Memetic #1. This sloth meme isn’t going anywhere.
Tynion has already proven that he can write a certain kind of horror series with his other Boom! Studios title The Woods. The horror he brings is one that creeps through with characters and how they react to the horrific situations they’re put in rather than just through images of the grotesque and the horrible. At the same time, Tynion is amazing at combining familiar tropes and turning them into something that feels new. The combination of both aspects is what makes him shine as a creator. In Memetic, Tynion combines the real fear of the dangers social media can bring with a Contagion/World War Z scenario. An unknown source has found a way to weaponize a meme, making viral take a more literal meaning in the most sinister sense of the word.
We start the first issue of this three-part mini-series with a brief glimpse into the future: Day 3 of the end of the world. Aaron Sumner, self proclaimed CEO at Being Terrible at Everything and current college student, is our eyes for this digital apocalypse. Day 3 flashes back to Day 1 and we go from total chaos to the pre-apocalyptic state of the world through Aaron’s eyes. He’s our typical outsider figure. He has relationship problems with his boyfriend and he’s feeling disconnected from the world while still being intrinsically attached to the social media aspect of it. Does that part sound familiar? It certainly does to me.
Our other central character is Marcus Shaw, an aging veteran and former head of Military Intelligence whose deteriorating vision prevents him from falling under the Sloth meme’s deadly “spell”. He still “sees” the effects of the meme on the general populous though and he’s using every connection he has left to warn the country of the danger he foresees. The two characters couldn’t be more different from one another but each provides an outsider perspective needed for the series to move forward because only outsiders can remain unaffected by this world sweeping phenomenon.
Aaron’s narration of the events, outside of the storytelling in the panels and images, is also told through his desperate texts to his boyfriend Ryan. The heavy influence of social media doesn’t feel forced here because of the subject matter. It enhances the idea of how influential social media is in real life by having it so present in the story and in the telling of it.
Donovan’s pencils are clean and definitive, reminding me of Adrian Alphona’s distinctive realistic caricatured style. The world represented here is as diverse as the reality it imitates and an Alphona-like art style is the best way to go fully flesh that out. However, it’s the horror scenes where Donovan’s art-style really pops. Despite the caricatured design, the gore on the page will still make you wince. The perfect accompaniment to Donovan’s pencils, Adam Guzowski’s colours are incredibly versatile. He’s able to create an apocalyptic atmosphere on one page and an innocent pre-apocalyptic world on the next. The stark contrasts in tone, given side by side in the issue’s first splash page, establish an uneasiness that trickles through most of the book.
This three-issue mini-series details each day of the slothpocalypse. Issue one begins and ends with total chaos. The phrase “Well, that escalated quickly!” has never been more true here and the realistic horror presented in the viral image’s rapid spread is scarier than any horrific gore scenes in the book.
Buy. This mini-series is off to a fantastic start. The pacing, art, characters, and concept make this a worthwhile introductory issue despite its $5 price point. It’s modern horror at its finest, horrifying in its seemingly realistic take on the effects of the Interwebs and social media on society and culture as we know it now. It really makes you wonder if social media can really be the end of the world