This was a book that I was very unsure of after the first two issues. It could have either gone way up or way down in overall quality; because there just wasn’t a lot of story to go off of early on. But with the third issue things got a little clearer, and we actually get to see some of the members of the 140 interacting, and the end of the issue we get the big reveal as to what our “benevolent” dying billionaire has in store for the 140 (which after last issue is the 139, but I’ll get to that part later).
I had been concerned from the beginning that this book would be a bit too “preachy” and try too hard to be modern, because the incorporation of a twitter-analogue and the idea that certain people are picked at random to share in the social media creator’s billions as part of his dying wish all seemed to be a bit on-the-nose, and it reminded me of all the stories of late that try too hard to shoehorn in “hip” ideas and to force themselves to be modern and topical, when things in comics should (try, at least) to happen naturally; or at least as “naturally” as anything can in a comic book.
The opening pages showing some of the events in Ferguson, while well done and not feeling “exploitative” will most likely be the kind of thing that is utterly lost on another generation of comic book readers who may go back and read this story 40-50 years from now. But besides that point, I really liked the way that opening scene ended, with Dave and Devon (the brothers from the first two issues) standing in Ferguson when Devon asked Dave “how many rich folk do you see in Ferguson right now?” which is something that really floored me, personally. I am a Midwestern boy, born and raised in Central Illinois, and have been to St. Louis more times than I can count. It is roughly 2 ½ hours by car for me to drive into STL proper, and to think that the kinds of things occurring “a world away” in Ferguson were really happening only a few hours from my home is a sobering one.
The rest of the issue focuses more on Dave and his time aboard a private jet, and while on board, his time with another member of the 140, Courtney. Dave and Courtney hook up on their way to the private island, and it ends just as well as you think it would for a woman who is already throwing her money around- offering Dave at one point in the flight “$5000 to stop talking to me right now”. while I laughed at that moment, I think it was meant more to drive home the fact that not everyone who won this money is someone who has enough of a blue collar and lower-middle class upbringing to appreciate just what that money could do for them and those around them.
I really liked the look of this book, it has a scratchy and hatched shading style that was really on display during the scenes when Headspace creator Larry Ferrell (the guy who is giving people all the money on the 140 list) is talking to his personal physician Dr. Zhu. I liked how it showed him laying flat on the hospital bed, but was still able to convey emotions for both Ferrell and Zhu very well. I really like the doctor, and hope we get to see more of him and Ferrell interacting in the future.
The line Ferrell used when he saw all the private jets landing on his island, saying “beautiful birds are coming home. Graceful…” it was a wistful moment that may have been used to show that his lucidity is slipping bit by bit at this point- which becomes ever more obvious shortly. The rest of the interaction with Dave and Courtney was a bit odd, but I think that it again was meant to serve the fact that Courtney is gross and sort of an entitled snob. Beyond that, it didn’t do to serve the story much at all. In the interactions with Courtney and Dave, we got a herpes joke, a reference to “Punk’d”, Courtney using Dave’s name in quotes (meaning she thinks it’s a fake name?) and then Courtney leaves Dave in the lurch and latches herself onto an older bald man who immediately brings up that he is used to traveling with his wife, and he was half expecting her to get off the plane with him.
The part when Dave disembarks from the jet and runs into the man with a skin condition and screams and faints, was a bit much for me, but I understand that there is supposed to be more to that character and there is intended to be some sort of connection to them that was shown in earlier issues- but it just felt a bit odd. He faints and people around him think he is so weak willed or easily startled- but that could play into the next part in Dave’s favor, since he does have some sort of connection to the man with a skin condition who appears to be a giant bipedal panther-man. Dave then meets Akira, who is probably the most badass of everyone I have seen in this book, and he is wearing a freaking wedding dress. So, I expect a lot of big things from Panther man AND Akira… But only time will tell, because that scene ends rather abruptly and we are taken into Farrell’s island estate.
From there, though, the story takes a turn- and I think it was the bluntness of Ferrell’s monologue that really drove home the fact that this story can (and I am sure WILL) take a very dark and grizzly turn in future issues. Ferrell states that he had split his money evenly among the 140 randomly selected people, to be electronically transferred to them upon his death, but with one of the 140 dying prematurely, he explained how that with each member of the 140 (or 139 now) dying, each person who remains would receive basically an additional million dollars than what they were initially promised. This can be applied exponentially through the rest of the 139 survivors, until only one person is left to collect the entire $18.42 billion dollars. Which basically means, this story boils down to battle royale after this, where everyone is out to kill everyone else and to become even more rich than the rich they were already about to become.
So this book boils down to 140 people are selected randomly to become millionaires overnight, then are brought to a private island and told that for every member of their millionaires club that dies, the surviving individuals gain that much more wealth. So we will see if Ferrell’s game of showing humanities true face, and showcasing the violent and greedy nature of people plays out the way he thinks, or if people like Akira and Dave end up finding ways to stop this massacre from occurring.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this book so far, because I still have a lot of questions that are as of yet unanswered. I can say I do enjoy the artwork, and as far as stories that are statements on current culture and society, this one doesn’t feel as forced as it could be, and beyond a few random references that will be lost on basically EVERYONE in ten years, I think the book is well done.
Rating: 7 out of 10