Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.
This week, along with a pretty hefty stack of all the ongoing series I’m following, I picked up Memetic #1 from Boom! Studios. This was the first issue of a three part mini series written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Eryk Donovan, with colours by Adam Guzowski and letters from Steve Wands.
Memetic involves an internet meme. Not just any meme though; a weaponised meme that threatens to destroy civilisation and bring about the apocalypse. Following an argument with his boyfriend, Aaron finds himself scrolling through Reddit in his room rather than going to sleep, despite still being awake after 7am. Before finally turning in for a few hours, he comes across a picture of a sloth, smiling and giving a thumbs up surrounded by trippy circles and colours. The post author insists that the image makes them “feel amazing”. Aaron remains unaffected, due to an inability to distinguish colour (other than blue), but throughout the day all of his friends, and soon the entire world becomes infatuated with the ‘Good Times Sloth’, with everyone reporting euphoria and a general feeling of happiness to the point where many can’t look away. Only those who can’t see the picture, like Marcus, the blind former head of US Military Intelligence, or unique cases like Aaron aren’t infatuated.
The obsession tips Marcus off to research he remembered reading in his old job, as people start weeping with joy when they look at the image. Getting in touch with Barbara, the author of the paper and an old colleague, they talk about the potential of weaponised memetics, utilising the human propensity to disseminate information and the modern tendency to spread “discord and inanity” over the internet. While they don’t understand what Good Times Sloth is they know it isn’t good, and they’re right. Twelve hours after the post first went live, after the image has been shared ad nauseam over every social media platform there is and all over the news, things start to go very wrong starting with the first people who viewed it. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide had already seen the image, and they all start to succumb to it’s effects. By the end of the first day things look dire, with only those who are unaffected, or who didn’t or couldn’t see Good Times Sloth left to figure out what has happened, how the meme is doing this and who unleashed it.
Tynion weaves a very interesting mystery here, and the cast of characters are all well rounded even if some of them don’t stick around for the whole issue. Considering my generally high level of disdain for social media, the story appealed to me a great deal. It is basically what would happen if everyone who shared that tedious viral video of the dancing pony advert for 3 (i.e. EVERYONE) started going crazy. The pervasive and terrifyingly quick rate that the meme is spread and the analysis of memes and social media in general was fascinating, and a great trigger for the end of the world as we know it. I also very much enjoyed the few nods to Tynion’s other series, the twitter handle @doctorrobot, and Aaron’s Facebook page having Karen as a friend, both from The Woods. I found that the use of tweets and messages over the pages worked very well in the context of the story too, which could have easily been annoying (and has been in other comics). The art was strong too, with the whole first half of the issue feeling very creepy, then when all hell breaks loose the colours become much more vibrant and the line work more strained to convey the gravity of the situation.
This was a really strong start for this short mini series. I loved the concept, and the execution was spot on too. Pick this up at your LCS or digitally (before the internet is shut down and society falls apart!).
9 Memes out of 10