What I Thought of Memetic #1

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This was an expensive week for me. Lots of stuff on Comixology, a new pair of glasses to pay for and saving for something quite life-changing next year means I’m trying to curtail my comic buying to interesting stuff. Thankfully the cover to Memetic looked interesting and a read of the synopsis interested me enough to buy it with my week’s comics from Comixology.

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.

 

Written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Eryk Donovan, a couple I’ve not read or seen work from before, Memetic is an apocalyptic tale that doesn’t involve aliens or zombies and it’s the lack of zombies in an apocalyptic comic that really hooked me. The idea of a meme destroyed the human race in 72 hours is a scary one, and a brilliant bit of contemporary science fiction. However is the comic any good beyond it’s one rather brilliant idea?

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Our main character Aaron, is the sort of 20-something who spends their free time online on Twitter, various forums and wanking, but he’s unaffected by this image which is, well, the sort of thing that would be shared and raved about online quite easily. In fact here it is…

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It’s a sloth giving a thumbs up against a weird background which for some reason makes everyone but Arron tingle with happiness. Thing is Arron is slightly deaf, colourblind and is moping after splitting up with his boyfriend, and everyone is obsessed with this image of a sloth giving the thumbs up. It’s all over his Facebook feed, which is what happens with memes, but it’s everywhere with nobody not posting it or talking about it. even the most popular memes aren’t that popular. Even his friend Sarah is obsessed by it. It even makes the mainstream media and becomes news.

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Memetic really is a massive surprise of a book. Yes, the apocalyptic comic is done to death and yes, it does read like a film script but it’s such a freshly original idea written well and drawn well, that it’s so easy to ignore the cliched characters which do pop up. It’s an engaging, quite fascinating bit of science fiction that breathes life into a genre which has been dragging itself along by its fingernails for some time now.

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It’s the sense of imposing doom that’s great about this story. There’s no mucking around as Tynion throws the reader right in it nor does he insult the reader’s intelligence by dumbing down some very large, complex ideas in the comic about the nature of memes, and the ease which information can spread in the internet age.

For 12 hours it’s all a funny news story if a tad annoying for those unaffected by it. Then at 12 hours bad things start happening and 500 million people become crazed lunatics. We’ve seen this sort of destruction and violence in comics like Crossed and Walking Dead, but there’s a different slant to this, even if the last half of the book does feel a bit like Stephen King’s Cell.

So what is the #GoodTimeSloth I dunno, but I hope the reveal and the payoff is as enjoyable (as the apocalypse can be) as this issue.

What I thought of The Wicked and the Divine #5

Thoughts about #1#2#3 and #4.

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Issue five of what appears to be the Hipsters comic of choice, see Lucifer trashing North London, which some of us may suggest would be an improvement. Also for something which is ostensibly a superhero book there’s been no big fight scenes causing massive destruction as yet. That isn’t the case as of this issue.

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It’s odd that it’s taken so long for such a scene to pop up, but now that it has it feels like an old friend as it’s probably the sort of action this comic needed as it was in danger of turning into a Guardian comment piece.

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The Wicked and the Divine is certainly a grower on me as I actually feel like I’m reading characters now as opposed to 2D cutouts, but then again after reading this issue it feels the previous four were just introduction and this issue is the one to kick the series off proper. I’m not going to say why as it’d ruin it, but this is the best issue yet of this series.

This feels like it’s going somewhere now and although I still have reservations about some of the flat characterisation, not to mention the art being a wee bit too clean so characters tend to look too alike, it’s a series which takes off with this issue. I hope next issue keeps the momentum up.

What I thought of Bodies #4

Thoughts about #1#2 and #3.

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The one thing which Bodies isn’t is uninteresting. As a murder mystery/historical drama/police story/SF tale it kind of works as a whole, but as said before, I really do think this is a work which is going to benefit being read in one sitting when it’s released in trade form.

The problem is that the most interesting parts tend to work well (WW2, Victorian age), the ok one could be better (modern day) and the future setting is just a bit annoying and frankly holds the story back because the characters just aren’t interesting enough to care about, even as broad SF comic cliches.

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For all it’s faults, Bodies really is a comic which gets better with each issue as it drives itself towards its end. As a plot, it’s brilliantly crafted which is supplemented by some fantastic art. It’s sadly some of the characterisation which is a tad lacking. However the plot is the driver here as Spencer hints more and more of these clues each issue, and this issue the hints point to something called the Long Harvest.

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This issue really is an issue of hints and clues, and I’m sure when looking back at this issue it’ll be all so obvious, but Spencer’s done a good job keeping me guessing as to what exactly is going on which is why I await the last two issues with some curiosity as I really want to know what’s going on.

 

What I thought of The Multiversity: The Just

Thoughts about The Multiversity #1 and Society of Super Heroes.

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Hiding behind a quite clever Heat type cover treating superheroes as celebrities is the latest in Grant Morrison’s story of alternate Earth’s in DC’s ‘New 52′ multiverse. Like the previous two issues it’s full of meta-references that if you know nothing about superheroes will make it not only impossible to read, but even if you’re as deep into comics as I am, it makes it an often quite turgid read.

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There’s a lot in this which seems familiar and the Trashbat reference lays it on a plate for anyone familiar with the work of Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker.

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Morrison has this world inhabited by the children of familiar superheroes but because they’ve wiped out all their villains, and are able to deal with any major threat quite easily, these children of heroes are bored and apathetic celebrities. In it Morrison takes a few pops at the cult of celebrity, not to mention modern culture, in ways which seem quite cutting, but again, if you’re unfamiliar with the likes of Morris or Brooker then a lot of this will seem just a bit like well trodden ground.

The problem is that Morrison’s making it too obvious that this is all a great postmodern (or post-postmodern as he has Batman say in this issue) gag, but it’s the sort of thing he’s done before but when he added a bit of bite. This postmodern satire is like being mauled by a pitbull with no teeth, which isn’t to say it’s an interesting read (it is if you like the sort of old superhero stories which told tales of Superman and Batman’s sons) but for all the quite lovely art there’s an emptiness at the heart of Morrison’s Multiversity which is that the bite has went out of Morrison’s writing. It’s all fun and everything to go through this teen angst superhero comic, but it is frankly, painfully dull at times not to mention all the attempts at meta references gets annoying smug.

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The Just isn’t a bad chapter in this story, and there are good things in this comic but this is as I’ve said previously, the sort of thing Morrison can knock out in his sleep. Yes, it’s fun to see the Justice League looking a wee bit different but there’s nothing new or different in these stories.

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But for all it’s problems Multiversity is leaps ahead of most other superhero stories because although Morrison’s retreading old ground on the whole (I will say the central idea of a lifeform disguised a story is wonderful), it’s still different to the majority of other superhero comics out there. Now that could be a testimony to Morrison’s skill or just that there’s a lot of really bad superhero comics out there but The Just is a good read if you know your superhero comics, have read Morrison’s work before and haven’t seen teen dramas at all in the last decade or two.

What I thought of Godzilla: Cataclysm #3

Thoughts about #1 and #2.

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A Godzilla comic should start with BIG MONSTERS TWATTING EACH OTHER, and not talking as if this is an issue of The Walking Dead, a comic which seems to be an influence for this post-apocalyptic Godzilla tale. When the monsters do come the action is thick, fast and fun but really, this isn’t anything but a series of fairly cliched post-apocalyptic beats we’ve seen before but the action is fun when it does arrive.

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This is a bad book, but unless you really want to read characters you don’t give a toss about endlessly talking before MASSIVE MONSTERS START THWACKING EACH OTHER, then try something else.

Board of Deputies of British Jews: UKIP has “embraced” racists and extremists

Horselover Fat:

For years now the whole thing with UKIP is that they weren’t obviously bigots and racists. I mean they were to a numbe rof us but the general perception thanks to the media was they were ‘having a go at the system’ and were ‘something different’. Although most people have no intention of voting UKIP, that’s not just because they have some dubious types in their party, but because their policies are either just the mantra of ‘Europe and immigration’, or utterly non-existent. It was however difficult to define UKIP as a far-right party, albeit a right wing party with far right support.

Now the perception of UKIP as a bit Tory-Max has to go. They are now clearly a far-right party with even less morals and principles that Le Pen’s party in France who wouldn’t stand with Holocaust deniers to get EU funding as UKIP have done.

Note that point too: they’re standing with the far-right to take money from the EU even though they’re supposed to be morally against it, yet are quite happy taking our money.

So here we go, we can safely say from now on UKIP are far-right and they should now be treated akin to the BNP.

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s the UKIP!)

More strong reaction to Nigel Farage’s decision to ally with a far-right party in the EU.

This time the Board of Deputies of British Jews – no bleeding-heart lefties by any means – have issued a statement accusing UKIP of embracing racists and extremists.

Here’s the Board of Deputies’ full statement:

Board of Deputies of British Jews Statement on UKIP and the EFDD

Board Vice President Jonathan Arkush said: “The Board is gravely concerned by reports that UKIP may sit in the same parliamentary grouping as a far-right Polish MEP in a bid save its funding.  Robert Iwaszkiewicz belongs to an extremist party whose leader has a history of Holocaust denial, racist remarks and misogynistic comments.  He belongs to the far-right Polish JKM, led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke who has reportedly called into question the right of women to have the vote.

“Furthermore, we…

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Mike Read’s racist UKIP calypso should be banned!

It shouldn’t be banned. That’s just me indulging in some shameless clickbait headline writing, as well referencing Mike Read banning Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax.

For those who haven’t heard it, here’s former DJ Mike Read’s UKIP campaign song titled UKIP Calypso by his ‘band’ The Independents. If you’re of a nervous disposition I suggest looking away now…

Did you notice such Wildean lines of wit such as Leaders committed a cardinal sin, opened the borders let them all come in, which is well, racist when sung in a cod-Jamaican accent, or in fact any accent you can imagine.But perhaps it’s just the one line that’s racist and the rest is just a jolly ditty about Nigel Farage and UKIP?

Nope, Read ‘sings’ about Illegal immigrants in every town which isn’t just obviously a coded racist line, it’s also something which leads into the astonishing line Oh yes, when we take charge, and the new prime minister is Farage, we can trade with the world again – when Nigel is at No 10 which shows just how far removed from reality UKIP are as we do trade with the world but UKIP’s idea of cutting off the EU and dragging the UK back to 1950 is fucking insane.

The fact Farage has supported a song with obviously racist undertones and writes it off as satire (something he wouldn’t know if it bit him on the arse) but Farage and his supporters clearly do live in an era which most of us thought was over long, long ago. You do have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that it is 2014 and not 1972.You do have to be aghast that although the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems are pointless neoliberal parties intent on wrecking the country, they’re not actually certifiably insane as UKIP are.

So what’s the conclusion in all this?

Well, if you live in England you should look at the policies of the Green’s, see how much you agree with them and vote for them. In Scotland, look at Green and SNP polices, and in Wales look at Green and Plaid Cymru polices. The idea that there are ‘no alternatives’ bar UKIP is nonsense. Most of all though don’t bloody buy Mike Read’s appallingly racist song!