The three-issue miniseries Memetic launches strongly.
James Tynion IV (The Woods) has come up with a dynamite, of-the-moment concept. We open on the end of the world, deserted streets with various bodies laying around and fires burning in the distance. That’s soon contrasted with two days ago, a normal, everyday scene where everyone’s on the internet in some fashion. Soon, they’re all talking about and passing around the latest meme, a picture of a happy sloth. (Isn’t it neat that they actually made an animated version for the internet?)
No one understands why those who view it feel so happy. It quickly sweeps the world, causing almost cult-like behavior. Unfortunately, bad things end up happening to those who saw it.
I’m impressed with Tynion’s acknowledgement of how different the internet can be for those with challenges. His two leads are a color-blind boy who needs a hearing aid and a former soldier who’s lost his sight. The meme doesn’t affect them, due to their impairments. They team up with a scientist who’s done research on “memetic warfare”, weaponized memes (demonstrating the problem of how to study something that’s not safe to look at).
The boy, Aaron, doesn’t react the way his friends do, and that just reinforces how lonely he feels after a breakup with his boyfriend. Tynion’s dialogue is realistic and expressive, building the characters through the ways they interact naturally with friends.
That works because artist Eryk Donovan, billed as a newcomer, is able to draw both people going crazy and acting terribly and normal conversation scenes. He’s talented. His portrayals make me care about these folks, even when I know I shouldn’t get too attached, since this is a horror comic at its core.
I like that it’s a limited series, which means I know there’s an ending coming (not just continuing cliffhangers, a pattern which has sunk other hot, well-done series for me). It is high-priced, at almost $5 an issue (although it is oversized, with 32 story pages compared to the usual 20 or so, plus six behind-the-scenes pages). Given the limited run and the substantial cover price, I imagine many readers will want to wait for the collection — and to see if the conclusion lives up to the suspense of the opening.
You can read preview pages as part of this interview with the creators. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)