Writer: Alex Paknadel Art: Martin Simmonds Publisher: Vault Comics
This review only covers the fourth issue of this 5-issue miniseries. If you want to catch up on the first 3 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 poor life choices leading up to this issue.
YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
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.
WHAT IS IT?
Imagine if Google Glass anthropomorphized an artificial intelligence made for the sole purpose of marketing. Now, imagine if that AI malfunctioned 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 if the Coen Brothers did an episode of Black Mirror around Idiocratic (as an adjective describing an Idiocracy) rampant brand obsession and consumerism. This particular issue also feels a bit like Palahniuk's Survivor, where we discover fame isn't quite as fulfilling as everyone hopes.
This review covers issue #4.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
While issue #3 moved further into the farce genre, this dives head-first into it.
To catch up: Leo's been robbing Cornutopias (basically Walmarts) because he can legally get away with it. They've made a whole TV show out of it, granting him the fame he's always wanted. His human-looking AI Friendo, Jerry, is malfunctioning, dispensing even worse advice than usual while also looking like a mauled corpse. The owner of the Cornutopia chain has taken a hit out on Leo in order to stop all the negative publicity, and Zajicek, the bunny-eared hitman, is on Leo's tail.
In this particular issue, we get some insight into Leo's troubled past and see fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.
As the house of cards begins to fall, we see climb toward the summit of Leo's mountain and realize that this farce was a fiasco all along.
Alex Paknadel is the Kurt Vonnegut of the modern day -- grim and humorous, brilliant and biting
In this issue, Paknadel covers topics, like:
The foster system
Discussing murder with as much weight (and in the same breath) as store traffic and PR plans
Mental health and suicide
Becoming a part of the monstrous system that turned you into your present self
Fame doesn't make you free
In fact, it limits your freedom even more
The dangers of low-income white dudes who will follow anyone famous who promotes violence (discussed in the panels below)
The concept of masculinity is stupid and dangerous, like a barely cooked burger
Favorite line this issue: "If it's all supposed to be a big joke then how are we supposed to know when to stop laughing?"
It reminds us that while this is a farce with comedic elements, many of the issues are incredibly serious
Simmonds steals the show whenever he does a spread
His ability to show violence and tension physical humor works perfectly for the comic and genre
This is my favorite issue for showcasing Dee Cunniffe's color work
The warm to cool color palettes create tonal variety between characters and locations
The use of primary colors in the Cornoptia with Leo and secondary ones for the "new" Jerry and his Friendo
Using red to highlight the humor in Leo's seedy motel situation
As always, Taylor Esposito's lettering work is exemplary
Did the idiot white guys use the crack in Leo's glasses as their modern-day crucifix?
When Leo mentions the Action Joe figurine, he actually verbalizes the "TM"
"Time is money" gets revisited
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
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
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
Some lettering work got lost in the background in my review copy, but I'm sure production probably fixed it before it went to the presses
This can happen when a letterer has to work on the comic before the colorist is through with it, and does not reflect the skill of the letterer when that is the case
You might need to read it more than once to catch everything
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
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.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
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™ #1-3 by Alex Paknadel & Martin Simmonds
Death Sentence: London by MontyNero & Martin Simmonds
Sex Criminals, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
ABOUT THE CREATORS
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
One the Rise: Has been on higher profile comics within the past few years, probably because he's a fantastic colorist
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
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Issue #4 is coming soon.
Click one of these for issues #1-3:
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