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REVIEW: Memetic #1 by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan

Memetic #1 by James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan (BOOM! Studios)

Memetic #1 is an apocalyptic future that looks a lot like today. Sure, we’re not bleeding from our eyes and attacking each other in great numbers but we have become slaves or at least zombies to our devices and social media. That’s the conceit in this fresh new limited series from James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan. The weapon of mass destruction is not a nuclear bomb but a viral meme with a euphoric effect that spreads like a cat video across the world leading to some disastrous results.

 There are plenty of comics with end of times scenarios but Memetic takes a not-so-subtle swipe at our culture’s obsession with the inane. Only this viral meme of a psychedelic sloth comes with some deadly consequences. Our young hero is Aaron, a hearing-impaired, color blind, college student on the dumps because of a cheating boyfriend is exasperated with the ubiquitous Good Times Sloth spreading all over the internet and mainstream media. The story flashes to the devastation it created but wisely starts from the beginning and how it spread.

Tynion builds an unease with the rapid spread of the meme and how it affects everyone’s mood. You know it’s going to end badly you just don’t know how or why. The timeline is basically a ticking time-bomb and we get to experience it as it happens. It’s a cute premise until you realize the metaphor for our culture’s addiction to smartphone apps and social media is making us a sort of zombie now. And such a virus implemented as a hidden trigger in a meme in theory could drive us to be savage killing machines. It doesn’t sound as farfetched as first thought and that helps make Memetic a fantastic cautionary tale reminiscent of the best Twilight Zone episodes.

Donovan’s artistic style is fresh but restrained. At least in the beginning when depicting life before the frenzy. His simple but well designed panels make even innocuous text messages interesting. It’s a well executed stream of public consciousness that draws us in even while poking fun at us. Donovan keeps the story grounded artistically to let the story unravel and reach a tipping point of horror and madness.

Tynion has found his voice in this creator-owned gem that skewers our social obsessions while scaring our pants off. After doing some work for DC Comics under the wing of the great Scott Snyder he has easily done his best work with Memetic. He’s created a terrifyingly realistic doomsday scenario that will make you think twice about sharing the next viral sensation. 

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