Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Eryk Donovan
James Tynion IV is probably best known for his Batman work, supporting Scott Snyder since the New 52 relaunch in a number of ways, but he is also building a name and following for himself with his excellent body of work being published by Boom! His The Woods is one of my favourite ongoing comics, and I've been enjoying UFOlogy lately.
This is why I decided to give Memetic a shot. It's a three-issue mini-series, but each issue is oversized, and therefore Tynion has a lot of space to play with his themes.
In this story, a picture has gone viral on the Internet. It's an image of a happy little sloth, with a background of concentric circles. It looks exactly like the type of thing that people put funny sayings on. What makes this particular image different, though, is the way it makes people feel. It induces a sense of elation, and creates in people a form of mania that encourages them to pass it on to others, and to spend hours looking at it.
Our point-of-view character for most of the series is Aaron, a young college student with a number of issues. To begin with, Aaron is completely colourblind, and wears a hearing aid (which becomes instrumental to the plot later on). When he looks at the picture, he feels nothing, and is having a hard time understanding why people are so obsessed with it. He'd rather worry about the fact that his boyfriend is not returning his calls.
Anyway, it doesn't take long before we realize that there is a lot more going on with this picture, and that it is rewriting the human brain somehow. Another person who has figured this out is a retired officer in the Army, who used to specialize in information-based attacks. He suffers from macular degeneration, and is therefore also unable to see the image properly. He attempts to rally some of his old contacts, but is hard-pressed to find anyone in charge who hasn't seen the image.
And then things start to change. The people who have looked at the picture begin to change into 'screamers', and things get very weird.
Tynion does a very good job of setting up this plot, and extrapolates nicely from our current obsession with social media. He lifts some ideas from zombie and Apocalyptic stories, and then gives us a big finish that will leave the reader looking for more information.
Eryk Donovan is not an artist I'm familiar with, but he's very talented. His work reminds me a little of Sean Murphy (it's the noses, which I've always thought of as Chris Bachalo noses), but is a freer artist in a lot of ways.
This series is thought-provoking and very effective. I recommend it, and anything else that Tynion is doing at Boom!