Saturday, July 2, 2016

Unfollow: 140 Characters

 I told you social media was bad!

 Vertigo has released a slew of new titles recently, in an effort to get back some of the hipness, relevance, and sales that they had in the days of THE SANDMAN, PREACHER, SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER, etc. Those days are long gone, and Vertigo has been relegated to the fringe of the DC Comics publishing empire, while they concentrate on trying to constantly reboot their super-hero universe.

 So, will UNFOLLOW: 140 CHARACTERS start me down the road of collecting a Vertigo title again...? Eh...not really sure. I just finished another new Vertigo release, THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON, and both of these books suffer from the same problem: They both collect six issues of a new series, and by the time that I hit the last page of each book, I felt that the premise was barely established. If I had been reading either book as a floppy, I doubt that I would have made it past the first issue. The interest just wasn't there. Comics these days are getting waaaaay too "Slow-burn"....Both of these Vertigo books have intriguing concepts, but they need to kick it up a notch.

 The high concept here is that a dying social media mogul has created a new app, which randomly selects 140 people to be the heirs to his billions when he dies. He flies these people to his private island, where he will use them to test the true nature of humanity.....The money is to be divided up amongst the 140 equally, with one caveat: If someone dies, their share will be added to the pot that the remainder of the 140 share. So, by telling the assembled heirs that there could, theoretically, be one sole survivor that would inherit the whole eighteen billion dollars, he is basically encouraging them all to become murderers.

 Writer Rob Williams only lets us get to know a small handful of these potential millionaires, so the stakes never really feel very high. (A similar premise was explored in the Japanese film/manga BATTLE ROYALE, which succeeded in humanizing the competitors to a much greater degree, thus making the stakes increasingly higher with each death.) By the end of this first volume, the 140 have been whittled down to 139, which means that this story could potentially drag on for hundreds of issues. As I grow older, I have less and less patience for starting new stories that don't seem to have an endgame in sight. With new comics, the sad reality is that, unless it stars a super-hero who has been featured in a major motion picture recently, you'll probably be canceled before you end your first year. This series has an interesting premise, but I'd be amazed if Vertigo had the patience to stick with it until the end, if Williams does have an end in mind.

 I enjoyed reading this review copy, but whenever I close a review copy, I ask myself "Would you actually pay to read the next volume of this book?"...the answer, in this case, is: Probably not, unless I hear that the series starts moving a LOT faster.

 Vertigo provided a review copy.