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Writer: Alex Paknadel Art: Martin Simmonds Publisher: Vault Comics

Friendo™, Issue #3, cover, Vault Comics, Paknadel/Simmonds

This review only covers the third issue. If you want to catch up on the first 2 issues, you can read about them here. And you might want to read those issues before you read this review, because there will be SOME MODERATE SPOILERS as we discuss Leo's current...let's say "predicament."


Since this only covers a single issue, we won't be focusing on the full story arc, and this review may look a little different from the weekly reviews of full volumes.


Imagine if Google Glass anthropomorphized an artificial intelligence made for the sole purpose of marketing. Now, imagine if that AI went rogue in a world where corporations are no longer held accountable for their actions.

Yeah, it probably wouldn't turn out super well.

It's like Black Mirror or 2011: A Space Odyssey meets the rampant brand obsession and consumerism of Idiocracy.

This review covers issue #3.


(Moderate Spoilers)

Issue #3 further into farce territory. We also mostly pause the Jerry story in favor of introducing us to our antagonists and hinting at what's in store for Leo. The reason for having a separate review for this issue is that there's just SO MUCH to talk about. Every issue of FRIENDO is a course in how to make a comic deep and thoughtful and wildly entertaining.

When last we left our characters, Leo listened to Jerry (his malfunctioning, malevolent AI Friendo) and decided to seize the day. Unfortunately, this means robbing a Walmar- err..."Cornutopia" and take the Action Joe figure he feels like he's been owed since his childhood.

Unfortunately, the Action Joe figure was discontinued years ago because it was highly toxic, so this whole "drunken robbery" thing turned out to be just a big misunderstanding.

A well-paid corporate lawyer saves Leo's proverbial bacon, stating Leo's not responsible for his actions -- Thanks, Bernays Act! (See the previous review for more info about that.) However, due to a series of macabre, comedic events (like most things in this book), Jerry now seems to be a zombie-esque version of himself, lucid and hideous, guts falling all over the place.

It may seem to Leo that things actually turned out all right, but it's more likely that he got out of the frying pan just to jump into the fire with this new plan that the lawyer has for him.

Meanwhile, we meet our big bad, Rex Carrington, who is essentially Sam Walton of Walmart fame. Presumably using all that money and power he made in America, he's created his own sovereign nation where people have to live by his rules. As owner of all Cornutopias, he's very upset at Leo and that the Bernays Act, meant to protect the rich, could actually hurt him.

So, he hires a hitman to make the problem go away. Publicly. As one does. That's the man you see on the issue's cover.

If you're keeping score, Leo's still beaten up from his car accident. His Friendo™ is malfunctioning, horrific and convincing him to make terrible decisions. He's got a contract killer after him, and one of the richest men in the world (presumably) wants him dead.

And we're only on issue #3.


  • Paknadel is the Kurt Vonnegut of the modern day -- grim and humorous, brilliant and biting

  • Once more, we get some amazing and dynamic panels like the one below, which reminded me a lot of Fraction & Aja's Hawkeye run

  • The point that being held at gunpoint in a monument of consumerism or burning to death in a car accident are just another experience becoming commonplace that people ignore and corporations dodge responsibility for

  • The idea that the Action Joe figure is as toxic as the capitalist ideals it represents

  • And that Leo cared enough about it to hold up a hypermarket but not enough to know it had been discontinued years ago

  • A character says the poisonous dolls were buried in a "reservation" and, if this means "Native American reservation," that's pretty terrible and totally something America would do

  • Jerry might be Leo's painting of Dorian Grey

  • The lawyer's card says she works for "Low Point Associates," which is so comically, farcically on-the-nose, it feels like something out of a Coen Brothers movie

  • Carrington bastardizing a piece of American history for his "country" feels so real

  • It used to be a symbol of America standing up to unreasonable taxes and regulations, so it'd make sense that a very rich man like him would be upset about ANY taxes or regulations

  • Lines to remember:

  • "Cultures only become self-aware at the end. When it's already too late."

  • "Freeze, crime-%*&$er!"

  • Other great themes:

  • Horror as Humor

  • Slipping on a bird's corpse like it's a banana peel

  • Man burning alive, desperate to use the attention he's getting to plug his film (also an eerie reminder of Leo in the first issue and a warning that he hasn't hit rock bottom yet)

  • Human Life Has No Value

  • Armed security guards at stores

  • Literally hunting people for sport

  • Caring more about being taxed or stolen from than human life

  • Everything has Meaning

  • Bernays Act -- Edward Bernays is a celebrated Austrian-American propagandist with many corporate ties

  • Drones -- Named Samyaza & Arkiel, after fallen angels who were "Watchers"

  • Gadsdenia -- The Gadsden flag is yellow, with a snake, and says "DON'T TREAD ON ME," matching

  • This is more of a comment on Vault titles as a whole, but Friendo and others put a little about the issue on the back cover, and it's a really nice and helpful touch


  • Cursing & violence make it maybe not the best choice for kids

  • Cover art is not representative of the interior art (but I've got a panel below if you want an example of it!)

  • The interior art isn't as photo-realistic as other comics, but the style is this glamorous, almost garish aesthetic that actually really works to highlight the shallowness of society

  • You might need to read it more than once to catch everything

Friendo™, Issue #1, page 5, Vault Comics, Paknadel/Simmonds


Friendo™ forces us to reconsider our own self-centered natures, our compulsive need to consume, and how much power we've allowed corporations to consolidate. On the surface, it's a fun and enjoyable (albeit dark and tongue-in-cheek as hell) read, but there's also plenty to study here for readers looking to dig deeper into the story's meaning.


If you like the writing:

  • Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer

  • Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson

  • Fearscape by Ryan O'Sullivan & Andrea Mutti

If you like the art:

  • Friendo™ #1 & 2 by Alex Paknadel & Martin Simmonds

  • Death Sentence: London by MontyNero & Martin Simmonds

  • Sex Criminals, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky


Alex Paknadel – Writer

  • His apprehension toward trusting corporations and the tech industry also inspired his writing on Arcadia

  • Dream Team: Is part of White Noise Studio with other upcoming, extremely talented writers: Ryan O'Sullivan, Ram V & Dan Watters

  • Has a PhD in English literature

Martin Simmonds – Illustrator

  • Studied corporate identity and infographic design to inspire his style for Friendo

  • Often noted for his cinematic approach to his sequential art and blending of realistic and painted styles, he opted for a cleaner, more minimalist design for this comic to give it a more corporate feel

  • Outlander: Hails from London

Dee Cunniffe – Colorist

  • Is openly opposed to Move the Needle, Bounding Into Comics and other hateful entities aligned with #Comicsgate

  • Outlander: Lives in Ireland

Taylor Esposito – Letterer

  • Owns and runs Ghost Glyph Studios, which handles comic book lettering, production/pre-press & general design

  • Dream Team: Also currently working with industry superstars Warren Ellis & Colleen Doran on the Webtoon comic, Finality

  • Multitalented: He is also a second degree black belt in Koei-Kan Karate-Do


Issue #3 hits shelves December 19th. Make sure to buy it and the first two issues to put in the stockings of each of your family members in order to remind them that unchecked consumerism will be the downfall of society.

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The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.

All Vault Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Vault Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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