In the world of social media, it’s all about who you know, or at least, who you follow…  Your Major Spoilers review of Unfollow #1 awaits!

Unfollow1CoverUNFOLLOW #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Mike Dowling
Colorist: Quinton Winter
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Ellie Pyle
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Unfollow: “A dying social media mogul leaves his billions to be split evenly between 140 random people-or however many of them are still alive at the moment of his death. Rob Williams (MARTIAN MANHUNTER, THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR) and Michael Dowling (Death Sentence) assemble a cast that includes a young black man trying to get by in St. Louis, an Iranian reporter in need of hope, a retired special forces soldier with a strange sense of purpose, and a thrill-seeking heiress, in this thriller that shows we’re all still part of the food chain…”

140 CHARACTERS

I wasn’t sure about the premise of this series when I heard about it fearing that it would be another attempt to cash in on the surface of something trendy, in this case Social Media.  The first few pages put some of those fears to rest, treating us to the sight of a man in a business suit and a strange mask hunting another man through the jungles of a private island in The Bahamas.  It’s a strange start for the issue, setting a very disquieting tone, followed by a series of vignettes in which we meet our characters: David, whom we meet during his robbery of an electronic shop; Courtney, who base jumps into Manhattan, then announces she’s giving her entire trust fund to the less fortunate; and Ravan, whose televised denouncement of the regime in Tehran looks like it might end in her own suicide before the receives a message on her phone telling her she is one of the lucky 140.  In the last pages of the issue, we find a bearded man, kneeling before an altar covered in automatic weapons, having a one-on-one conversation with Jesus about what he should do next, a scene that is very uncomfortable to read…

FEELS LIKE EARLY VERTIGO

From the scratchy-yet-expressive art to the moody coloring to the strangely fragmented plotting, this reminds me of 90s Vertigo such as The Invisibles and Sebastian O, which is a good thing.  Our cast of characters each comes from an area known for real-world unrest, though, which always makes me a little bit leery of the themes we’re going to be dealing with, especially given the presence of a man with large-bore weapons and a penchant for prayer.  From an art perspective, it’s a lovely issue to look at, even as it shows us some ugly things (and a few utterly inexplicable ones, such as the appearance of a talking leopard in the middle of St. Louis), and the use of color is very effective in showing us the difference in the lives of our characters, but I just don’t feel like the plot and characters are up to the task that the story hook puts into place, especially if we’re going to see all 140 characters who have been randomly chosen to receive a portion of the millions set aside by the eccentric millionaire founder of the Chirper app.  Of course, with a plot that implies that we’re going the way of ‘Battle Royale’, that may be an easier task than I imagine…

THE BOTTOM LINE: A BIT ON-THE-NOSE

I’m really nervous and conflicted about this one, as it has a lot of real-world elements that could go horribly wrong, and the breakdown in this issue contains enough elements that almost too much already, and we haven’t even really seen the main plot go into effect yet.  As a first issue, it does a good job of introducing us to this world, and the creators make a point of referencing Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket, the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the premise, which proves that they’re definitely genre-savvy enough to make it all work.  All in all, Unfollow #1 makes for a compelling read, with lovely art, but pacing that doesn’t quite put all the pieces together and a worrisome undercurrent of stereotypical elements, making for 3 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m definitely interested in seeing where this is all going, though…

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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