It’s all been leading up to this. If you’ve been following our reviews of the Vault Comics series written by Alex Paknadel, art by Martin Simmonds, coloured by Dee Cunniffe and letters by Taylor Esposito – you’ll know that we’ve been enjoying it quite a bit. Friendo #5 is the grand finale, and if you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, oh boy, you’re in for a surprise. Leo’s character arc comes full circle in a violent showdown not long after he was injured by Zajicek the Cremator (who should be a contender for villain of the year). But does the issue deliver on the series’ promise of exploring the relationship between a man and his malfunctioning A.I.?
IN AN ERA OF VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS, HOME HUBS AND SMART TECH – PAKNADEL AND CO HAVE CRAFTED A DARK LESSON FOR US ALL THAT WARNS OF EMBRACING IT WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
Undoubtedly. While we won’t divulge any spoilers, Friendo #5 looks at Leo’s life as a tragic comedy and how it’s been turned upside down thanks to his partnership with Jerry’s mischievous nature. He’s the digital devil on Leo’s shoulder, giving him the push in the direction he subconsciously wants – but definitely doesn’t need. There isn’t necessarily a full-blown fight with Zajicek, but the way their confrontation plays out feels satisfying considering how it all plays out. Zajicek is easily the most interesting character next to Leo and Jerry, so it was riveting seeing him in a new situation that was well out of his comfort zone. Plus, who doesn’t love a violent hitman wearing pink bunny ears?
Friendo #5 quickly ties up some of the looser ends regarding the corporate higher-ups. We’re glad it doesn’t linger on them – mainly because the appeal here is the charismatic nature of Leo and Jerry rather than bureaucratic conspiracies. As the finale of the book comes around, the social commentary on consumerism (and more importantly; childhood) only float further to the surface as Leo openly embraces something missing from his youth. Another tantalising aspect to the issue is that it doesn’t spoon feed the reader any answers or directions on how to interpret some of the digital hallucinations on the page. Sure, there’s clear meaning in the subtext and certain elements link back to the initial issue, but it’s largely down to the audience to find their own answers in the of the visuals and the somewhat bittersweet ending.
While this might be the end of Leo and Jerry’s riotous adventure across America, it’s hard not to imagine their appearance in our everyday lives. In an era of virtual assistants, home hubs and smart tech – Paknadel and co. have crafted a dark lesson for us all that warns of embracing it all wholeheartedly.
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This technologic parable only gets more entertaining with each page before the reader is faced with a hard-hitting finale.