As the final day of Good Times Sloth dawns, the ragtag group left untouched by the meme must face the devastating facts in James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan’s “Memetic” #3. Like the rest of the series so far, this final issue produces some of the most startling and entirely bizarre visuals of the year. With a story that slouches dismally towards its conclusion, “Memetic” will make you want to put your computer away and not look at it again for a long, long time.
Comic book culture isn’t without its fair share of apocalyptic tales; with a crowded dystopian landscape, it’s rare to find a story quite as clever and unique as “Memetic.” In this issue particularly, the twist — that is, the reveal of the appropriately nameless creator — offers an infuriatingly interesting non-answer that spins the idea of this technological disaster on its head. Whether or not the creator is correct in either of his assumptions, his ideas about the evolution of mankind towards this fate is deeply unsettling in the kind of way that stays with you long after you’ve finished the story.
Likewise unnerving, Aaron’s fate hits a chillingly close to home. Tynion takes Aaron’s teen angst to another level entirely as his loneliness and isolation culminates in a disturbingly relatable course of action. While Aaron’s final act resonates particularly well with that good old teen staple of wanting to belong, the other characters similarly end up in starkly human conclusions, from Meredith’s brutal choice to Shaw’s utter resignation. Each character manages to choose a path that aptly suits their development over the course of this mini-series.
That enduring atmosphere of finality effectively takes root in the very first sequence. Even when featuring two unnamed characters — a (justifiably) paranoid woman and a small child — Tynion and Donovan nail down the tone of the issue in a heart wrenching but eerie opening scene that establishes the apparent hopelessness of the situation at hand. The moment only lasts for about three pages, but Tynion and Donovan hit all the right notes to carry that mood throughout the rest of the issue.
Though Donovan’s style falls into the cartoony ballpark, his style absolutely suits the deadened, wide-eyed stare of the screamers. He utilizes the more twisted ends of his creativity to shape the creator’s creepy funhouse town and the rising, writhing towers of melting human flesh. Nonetheless, he captures the highly emotional reactions of all the characters at hand, with a particularly eerie closing shot of Aaron’s maniacal glee. His lines are usually rough and thick, save for the image of the Good Times Sloth — the one image that remains steadfastly clear and omnipresent in the sea of contorting bodies; this is a particularly nice touch on Donovan’s part, in that it makes the meme seem like the most true to life aspect of the whole book. Where Donovan does a rock solid job with these disturbing visuals, the lack of sound effects — including the screamers “beautiful song” — feels sorely lacking. This didn’t need to be an ever-present, crowded deluge of sound effects, but the world as he draws it reads as silent without any visual cues. Colorist Adam Guzowski keeps it dark with dull orange sunsets and clouded skies, fitting the tragic nature of the book to a T.
“Memetic” closes on a bizarre, eclectic note that will stick with readers long after they’ve put this book away. In its final chapter, the book just sinks its claws into you with ringing, enduring despair and a feeling of absolute inevitability. Fresh, breathtaking, and wholly mesmerizing, “Memetic” #3 is the horror genre at its best.