If you’ve been keeping up with the series (and our reviews), you’ll know by now that this parable of consumerism is gripping. And we’re pleased to say that not only does Friendo #4 exceed expectations, it soars. Written by Alex Paknadel, art by Martin Simmonds, coloured by Dee Cunniffe and letters by Taylor Esposito – this is another fantastic addition to the series.
FRIENDO #4, LIKE THE REST OF THE SERIES SO FAR, IS MIND BOGGLINGLY BRILLIANT.
Don’t get us wrong, Leo’s situation is very dire. Not only is he hunted by a relentless hit-man, but his mental and physical health have completely disintegrated. Trust us, this is only going to get worse… Or more entertaining? Maybe a combination of the two. But the series interestingly sets Leo up with an internal conundrum; how does he live up to the high expectations of being an anti-hero now that he’s become a cult icon across the country? In his own head, he’s clearly unraveling.
His dramatic introduction in the opening few pages clearly tell us that he is far from okay. The character dissection has been such an fascinating peek into the mental side effects of consumerism and technology on children in particular. For example, the opening dialogue cleverly delivers some smooth exposition, giving us a further insight into Leo’s head as a child – and perhaps teasing where he’ll end up.
Did we mention the part where Leo and Jerry have a literal cult following? There’s a simple scene that gives readers so much to delve into, riffing on Mad Max: Fury Road with a dash of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. No, we’re not kidding. It’s a brilliant few pages where the art and the dialogue work beautifully in tandem, as the final panel packs a quietly violent punch. But the really meaty part happens in the finale of Friendo #4, as Leo comes face to face with his own worst fears during one of his sanctioned robberies. It poses an existentialist question to the reader, how do you be an individual in a world where consumerism imposes fashion, labels and rules on society?
The climactic ending has a very interesting way of driving the story forward, weaving in another key character to directly propel Leo even further down the proverbial rabbit hole. The only problem so far is the distance between Leo and Jerry’s riotous partnership compared to The Manufacturer’s overseeing eye. At the moment, Leo seems in such dire shape it’s as if he’ll never get to the root of the problem. But then, there lies another question. Is the root of all evil the corporations that shovel their products into the mouths of society, or the consumers themselves for allowing themselves to become sheep… Yes, this is all getting a little philosophical – but that’s the sign of a near-perfect science fiction book, if it’s applicable to our own world. Basically, what we’re saying is; Friendo #4, like the rest of the series so far, is mind-bogglingly brilliant.
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With only one plot element that feels distracted from the rest, Friendo #4 is a near-perfect issue. If you aren't reading this book, you should be.