Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Unfollow, Volume 1 Review (Rob Williams, Michael Dowling)
Larry Ferrell is the dying billionaire inventor of Chirper (fictional Twitter) and, in true Willy Wonka fashion, decides to give away his fortune to 140 random people (because there’s 140 characters in a tweet, I mean, “chirp”). These selected few receive a “140” app on their phones instantly entitling them to roughly $130 million each and a ride to Ferrell’s private island in the Bahamas to celebrate in style. However, if one of the 140 dies, their share is distributed equally amongst the survivors and, theoretically, the last man standing would receive billions. Let the murder games begin!
Rob Williams and Mike Dowling have hit upon an awesome story with Unfollow, taking the premise of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and repurposing it in a much darker way for the digital age. Perhaps aptly given the importance of 140 characters, this first volume is focused almost exclusively on the cast.
Our protagonist is a young man from a rough neighbourhood who sees the money as an escape for him and his sister to a better life but who also sees talking leopards and a man with a panther head! There’s also a spoilt brat intent on giving away her wealth, an ex-military turned mountain man who believes he is God’s chosen one to preach his message with bullets, and a famous Japanese novelist who cut his own legs off!
The most interesting character was the villainous Rubinstein, the eccentric billionaire’s right hand man, who wears a terrifying mask and spends a lot of the book shooting people. If there’s a complaint about this first volume it’s that the story takes a backseat while Williams sets up these disparate characters but, they’re such a colourful and compelling bunch, you’re never bored.
Mike Dowling’s art is fine but didn’t seem like anything special to me. The character designs for Akira the Japanese novelist and Rubinstein’s mask (the creepy hair!) were very cool though. I was really pleased to see RM Guera draw the last issue - Deacon, the mountain man’s origin story - as he’s a great artist and one of my favourites, especially as it’s a brilliant issue too.
Even though I’ve got no idea where this series is headed, what the leopard hallucinations mean, who the panther-headed man is, whether the idea is that everyone decides to kill one another or whether Rubinstein does it instead - and who the hell is Rubinstein anyway and what’s the deal with his mask!? - I’m absolutely interested to keep reading and find out. Kudos to Rob Williams and Mike Dowling on creating what could be the best Vertigo ongoing since Scalped - I’m definitely going to follow Unfollow!
Unfollow, Volume 1