Review - Memetic #1

"I don't get it, what's making you guys so happy?"

The apocalypse seems to be inevitable. The question is what's going to cause it. Robots, zombies, vampires, name it, chances are it could be the downfall of civilization. A meme though? That's a slightly harder sell, but one that BOOM! Studios is publishing in Memetic #1, written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Eryk Donovan, colored by Adam Guzowski and lettered by Steve Wands.

A Meme is an idea that starts with an individual, and then spreads throughout multiple persons and potentially entire societies. Richard Dawkins suggests a meme’s success comes from its effectiveness to the host. But history shows that destructive memes can spread just as rapidly through society. Memetic shows the progression of a weaponized meme that leads to the utter annihilation of the human race within 72 hours. The root of this apocalypse is a single image on the internet, a “meme” in the popular sense. A meme that changes everything.

You'd be forgiven if you were a little tired of the zombie/vampire story epidemic that seems to be pervasive throughout all media. At first blush, you would think that Memetic #1 would fall into the same trap, but fortunately for readers, Tynion IV doesn't allow that. His approach is very clever, presenting a world so committed to their devices that they're metaphorically zombies, prior to becoming actual zombies courtesy of a meme. And of course that meme just so happens to be the Good Time Sloth. Where the concept gets even more intelligent are the main characters: Aaron Summer is color-blind and Marcus Snow is blind. Tynion IV uses that to his advantage, giving him characters who aren't affected by the hypnotizing meme of a smiling sloth.

The Walking Dead seems to have made a name for itself by trading in tons of gore, but Donovan doesn't let Memetic #1 fall into that trap. His illustrations border on being amusing and intense when necessary, walking a very fine line in between. It's a testament to his ability to be able to offer up those two seemingly disparate styles, offering up a world that feels jovial in the good times and menacing in the "end-of-days-eyes-bleeding" times. Guzowski lends a hand here as well, relying on an overload of brown and black tones that cast an appropriate pall over the story. There's definitely a lot going on this book and the panel layouts successfully handle all the action, jumping from grids to insets rather effortlessly. The use of social media box overlays also gets the reader completely immersed in the world to great effect.

Memetic #1 is a very entertaining and smart book. The concept of people as zombies with their devices is nothing new, but taking it to the next level in making a meme a catalyst for the apocalypse is pretty brilliant. Tynion IV handles the concept excellently, tapping into the SmartPhone/tablet/social media zeitgeist that typifies modern society. Donovan's illustrations are clean and concise, without getting so bogged down in excessive detail that it loses the tone of the book. Memetic #1 is only slated to be three issues, but those three issues will be really, really interesting to read as the meme epidemic unfolds.

Memetic #1 is in stores now with interiors below.