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

Friendo™, Issue #4, cover, Vault Comics, Paknadel/Simmonds

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.


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 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.


(Moderate Spoilers)

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


  • 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

Friendo™, Issue #4, 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™ #1-3 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

  • 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


Issue #4 is coming soon.

Click one of these for issues #1-3:

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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