Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Unfollow, Volume 3: Turn It Off Review (Rob Williams, Mike Dowling)


And so Rob Williams and Michael Dowling’s limited series Unfollow comes to an end in their third and final book, Turn It Off. I’ve enjoyed the title up to this point, and I still liked parts of this one too, but the third book closes out the story in a birruva underwhelming fashion. 

The talking-imaginary jaguar’s out of the bag as the world discovers dead billionaire inventor of social media, Larry Ferrell, is really alive. As he lures the remaining survivors of the 140 to his location for the showdown, Akira the prophet unveils his app which claims to connect the living to the dead - or does it? 

Larry’s motivations were the biggest letdown for me. I’d hoped that a super-mega-genius like him was up to something more than the most basic shit but he wasn’t. That’s all he was going for? That’s disappointingly petty. Once his dull origin is swept aside, the story devolves into an ok, if fairly predictable, game of cat and mouse involving the rest of the cast with too many unimaginative gun battles. 

Also - and this is a problem with the series, not just this book - I wasn’t sure who we were meant to be rooting for; who’s the main character here? Larry? Rubinstein? Akira? I suppose it’s fitting that the most memorable characters are all villains because Williams’ overall message of Unfollow is how promising the internet once was and how horrible it’s turned out to be, birthing us Trump, etc. 

Firstly, in focusing so much on the villains, there’s no real payoff to the inevitable heroes triumph at the end because we don’t really know or care about them (I can’t remember any of their names, that’s how little of an impression they made). And secondly, Williams’ negative opinions on the internet are very short-sighted and one-sided, ignoring all the good that is has done besides serve as our collective connection to President Dumbass. 

The Akira storyline was interesting - his origin was gripping and had overtones of Yukio Mishima’s real life, and the life-beyond-death app was cool; it’s a shame Williams cuts the legs off (hoho! You’ll get it if you read the series) its potential so quickly though. Rubinstein was the standout again with his creepy mask - I liked that Williams pursued the “is or isn’t the mask haunted/alive?” question right to the end. Michael Dowling’s art is solid as usual too. 

Unfollow, Volume 3: Turn It Off isn’t a bad ending but it’s not a terribly exciting or brilliant one either. I’d still rec the series as a whole though - looks like there’s still life in Vertigo after all!

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