Memetic #2 (of 3)
Created and Written by James Tynion IV (@JamesTheFourth)
Illustrated by Eryk Donovan (@ErykDonovan)
Colors by Adam Guzowski (@Adam_Guzowski)
Letters by Steve Wands
Review by Joey Braccino
“…the idea isn’t done evolving.”
If it seems like just yesterday that the “Good Times Sloth” meme dropped and caused a wave of euphoria-comme-cannibalism to overtake anyone who saw it, that’s because in Memetic #2, it was just yesterday.
The rapidity with which the apocalypse-via-viral-image has decimated the planet is one of the most unsettling, engaging elements of James Tynion IV’s Memetic mini-series from BOOM! Studios. The premise is simple: a meme of a smiling sloth goes viral; the meme causes some sort of psychological/biological reaction; 24 hours later, viewers become Screamers and brutally assault any non-Screamers. But slow-burn Walking Dead this is not; Memetic is moving really really fast (Memetic #2 is literally “Day Two”), and the story is supposed to conclude next issue. The brevity and conciseness of the story results in an efficiency of narrative across just under 40 pages of story.
There are two storylines in Memetic: the first is the more typical “Team Tries to Save the World” story, in which retired (and nearly blind, hence his immunity) army colonel Marcus Shaw tries to lead a group of survivors from Washington to Oregon to trace the origins of the meme; the second is a much more intimate survivor’s tale a la 28 Days Later in which college student (and poster-child for pre-existing condition, hence his immunity) Aaron and his boyfriend, Ryan, try to survive without accidently seeing the image or getting attacked by Screamers. Both journeys move along at a rapid clip, and Tynion does an excellent job of balancing the issue between the two storylines such that each hit and earn their impactful, significant emotional climaxes. The former storyline with Shaw features the more action-packed guns-a’blazing sequences—complete with some extremely intense and tense moments—while the latter features one of the most beautiful and tragic scenes I’ve ever read.
Much of Memetic’s efficacy can be ascribed to Eryk Donovan and Adam Guzowski’s artwork. The aforementioned scene with Ryan and Aaron is absolutely stunning in its simplicity, which is all the more impressive considering it is juxtaposed with a riveting, terrifying action scene in which Shaw and his team move blindfolded through a not-so-abandoned airport terminal. Donovan juggles the dynamic and the intimate expertly here, and Guzowski’s colors are at once naturalistic and slightly off-kilter. Memetic depends on constant tension, and Donovan and Guzowski are more than up to the challenge.
BUY. Memetic is one of the most insane, engaging books I’ve read all year. The fact that it is a 3-part mini-series has elevated Tynion’s storytelling to its most efficient and effective; there is no fluff or angst-ridden brooding in Memetic. Instead, Tynion translates his lofty meditation on the evolution and danger of ideas into a tightly-paced, action-packed, on-point narrative filled with exceptional characters and unsettling imagery. And holy damn what a cliffhanger. Check it!