I am writing this from North Chicago, IL, but the small contingent of people that read my words will be scatted throughout the world. The internet is goddamned black magic: An unseen mesh connecting every point in the progressed world to every other point.
Everyone is linked by an informational umbilical cord. Our opinions are uploaded and our actions are streamed. Not only does it allow us to access every bit of recorded information and editorial, it lets us add to it. We are visible, seen, and important.
We are also vulnerable. Everyone is mixing and joining with every other person on earth, and never wearing idea condoms. In an era where fear of Ebola makes us wash our hands with compulsion, we wander the internet, spread eagle, never fearing what we might contract.
Memetic #1 sets up the idea that the world ends with a meme: A meme of a happy little sloth.
The image of a smiling sloth giving the thumbs up shoots to number one on Reddit and soon it has gone viral. It is featured on national news programs and even the president sees fit to comment on it. People christen the meme “Good Times Sloth”, and it is seen by over 400 million people in less than a day.
A unimaginable figure, but not one that is unbelievable for those who remember how fast Grumpy Cat became an internet hall-of-famer.
Without spoiling too much, the meme is sinister. Soon it infects a massive percentage of the world’s population. The U.S. shuts down its communication grids and destroys all domestic servers in an attempt to neuter the meme’s destructive power.
In less than a day the world is over. All of civilization; destroyed by a picture of a cartoon sloth.
Rather than pull the trick that a lot of post-apocalyptic stories do and drop you into an already destroyed world via a convenient story mechanism (Walking Dead, 28 Days Later), Memetic builds a world that is relatable to our own, and then makes you watch as it burns it to the ground in a plausible and maniacal way.
Rather than manufacturing mystery by withholding information that would be available to its characters through the course of the tragedy, it creates mystery by having relatable characters go through an evolving set of horrific events that are made more catastrophic by the nebulous motives of an unseen villain.
The first issue of Memetic is a clinic on how to set up “horror”. I like zombie stories, but I don’t wake up in the morning and walk to the bathroom with a bat because I worry that my roommate might have contracted the T-Virus.The catalyst of Memetic’s crisis is, admittedly, exaggerated, but it is more possible and topical than most world-ending plot devices. It is rare that a writer can come along and not only get you to think, but also give you a new fear.
The idea that the way we have consumed the world around us has been reckless and ignorant is just one of the interesting ideas that Memetic posits. The only people that are not affected by the meme are those with a physical defect or social maladjustment that prevents them from seeing it in its entirety (The color blind, the blind, the aggressively reclusive etc.) Writer James Tynion IV has set up a Darwinistic world populated, by people Darwin would deem inferior.
The “apocalypse” story trope has become so abundant in the new release section that I have begun to view the concept as reason to dismiss some comics before even purchasing them.
Memetic’s grounded world, tangible and detailed characters, and original spin on a played out genre are maxed out by Tynion’s perfect pacing . He gets the reader to invest, without ever boring them, before breaking their hearts and revving their minds.
If Memetic builds on the potential it spawns in issue #1, then BOOM Comics might have a book that can rival the imaginative juggernauts at Image. It may be one of the most exciting new number ones to come out this year, but the pressure is on.
Laced with promise, Memetic has a chance to be a big boy on the creator-owned scene. It has a boundless horizon of different places to take its plot, and oodles of original and exciting ideas to play with. Potential itself is not a guarantee, but issue #1 has made me not only anticipate issue #2, but long for it.