"Unfollow: Volume 2 – God is Watching" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo Comics
Originally published by Unfollow #7 - #12
Written by Rob Williams
Illustrated by Mike Dowling, Marguerite Sauvage, and Ryan Kelly
Colored by Quinton Winter and Marguerite Sauvage
2016, 144 Pages
Trade paperback released on January 11th, 2016
Growing up, you might have had a fantasy about inheriting millions from a long lost relative. Wouldn't that make all of your problems go away? For the 140 randomly selected people, it has done the complete opposite. Larry Ferrell, the founder of the social network, Headspace, has died, leaving his vast fortune to these complete strangers, split evenly amongst them. The catch is that if any of them die, the money is split between the survivors. That means that if you're on the list and you want to get richer, you just have to kill someone else on there. These people have become instant celebrities. Everyone wants a piece of them and targets are pointed squarely at their heads.
Unfollow begins with a fantastic premise and only builds from there. Writer Rob Williams keeps the story going through twist after twist, making it difficult to predict. Every time you think you've figured things out, something new will happen that drastically changes the status quo. This volume leads up to an incredible final page that reframes the entire series. It's jaw-dropping.
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One oddity that I haven't quite wrapped my head around yet is Ferrell's second in command, Rubinstein and his strange yet haunting mask. From the looks of things, he's on the list as well, so he stands to make a ton of money, although it seems that he forced his way onto it. As a result, he's taken matters into his own hands to hunt down the other 139 people and kill them. He delights in these acts of murder, relishing each moment.
The mask itself appears to have some supernatural properties, although it's tough to be sure. It could be a figment of his imagination, especially if we're seeing it from his point of view. It holds power, but what that means and how it works is still unknown. It even has its own Headspace account, sending messages out to the survivors on the list, taking pleasure in the hunt. These little pop-ups throughout the book are a nice touch from letterer Clem Robins. They replace the traditional inner monologue boxes with what are essentially tweets from select characters.
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Three different artists contributed to this volume, which makes the artwork a little uneven. It disrupts the flow of the story a bit as they each have their own unique style. Marguerite Sauvage opens God is Watching with a chapter centering on Courtney as we learn more about her tortured past, despite growing up in the lap of luxury. Sauvage's style works well with this segment, especially with the glamorous life that Courtney leads. She balances the bright, vibrant smiles for the camera and the deeper emotional moments that show the real person underneath it all.
The rest of the book is handled by Mike Dowling, with a fill-in chapter by Ryan Kelly. Dowling has a gift for action scenes, displaying amazing choreography that keeps the tension high. This comes to an epic climax towards the end of this trade paperback as some elements come to an explosive head.
Unfollow: Volume 2 shakes things up considerably. Characters grow and change tremendously, moving into unexpected positions. Some are motivated by greed, others by survival. What at first looked like a silver spoon is now a knife aimed sharply at their backs. This is a riveting comic that never stops being a joy to read. I don't know what that says about me, considering how bloodthirsty some of the characters can be.