Words: James Tynion IV
Pictures: Eryk Donovan
Man, James and Eryk are cranking up the intensity with this issue. Things get darker and more personal as the effects of the Happy Sloth sink deeper into the minds of those who’ve seen it.
This issue reminded me a lot of the movie Pontypool. In Pontypool, words become infected. Hearing certain phrases causes a shift in a person’s mind and then things start to get jumbled and crossed. The next thing you know, folks are living zombies. The same thing is happening here, but it’s starting from the visual spectrum with the Happy Sloth meme. Don’t take my comparison to Pontypool as a shot or a slight against this book, it’s not at all. I really like Pontypool, and I really dig this book.
If you dig zombies, then you’ll find some familiar tropes here. People are being transformed into seemingly mindless killers. Folks of uninfected are banning together to look for a cure. People are trying to find safe havens, which, after they find them, turn out to be none too safe after all. But unlike zombie tales, to become infected all you have to do is see this Happy Sloth. That takes that inherent fear and cranks it up several levels. It somehow brings a sense of personal responsibility to your own infection. After all, if you didn’t look, if you didn’t buy into the hype of the Happy Sloth, you wouldn’t be infected. And with screens everywhere these days, it’s hard to resist their pull. It’s crazy scary.
Plus, I really like how the people who are unaffected by the meme are those that are different. They don’t fit the “norm”, and the very thing that makes them different makes them immune to the effects of the meme. It’s almost as if James is putting a giant fun house mirror up to society and saying, “See? This is you. This is us. We clammer for the next new thing and can’t wait to share it so we can be the cool kid on the block. The first one to Tweet it, or Instagram it, or Facebook it or whatever.” To the point where we, as a society, can’t wait for the next big thing to come along. We become ravenous, almost mindless in our pursuit to find it. Or I could be way off base and just letting that last New Castle have a bigger effect on my inner monologue than it should. (Question: If I’m typing out my inner monologue, is it no longer my inner monologue? Isn’t is just more of a journal, or blog, or, I don’t know, a weird parenthetical part of a comic book review?)
Hats off again to Eryk for some really solid art once again. From terrifying to tender, he covers all the bases really well. And again, that damn Happy Sloth is just so damned cute!
4.5 out of 5 Screamers