"Unfollow #17" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo Comics
Written by Rob Williams
Illustrated by Mike Dowling
Colored by Quinton Winter
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 29th, 2017
Social media mogul Larry Ferrell planned to give away his vast fortune to 140 randomly selected people upon his death. Now he wants it back. He's changed the world once already by inventing social media. He's just done it again by destroying the Internet. The final showdown is on the horizon as the few remaining members of the 140 fight for their lives in the jungles of Venezuela.
Although the ride has been incredible, Unfollow is flying towards its finale. I believe this is the penultimate issue and there are still so many unanswered questions. Even more are introduced in this chapter. Of the 140, we barely got to know a few of them, which is not much to go on. This made the other 130 or so deaths, while startling, not all that impactful.
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What I'm most intrigued by is Larry's newfound ability to commune with nature. Wild animals follow and interact with him. Is this an ability he's always had? Is this something that came about after he “died” and was brought back? He's one song away from being a Disney princess with squirrels and birds standing on his shoulders. This is literally a full-page shot of him in this very pose with assorted animals crawling and flying all around him. Artist Mike Dowling delivers this image of Larry where he looks like an emissary of peace and wellbeing, which serves as a juxtaposition to his brutal actions as of late.
It's this middle ground between technology and magic that confuses and fascinates me. I understand how someone like Larry could rise to power as a Silicon Valley billionaire. What I don't get is how he can pull a Dr. Doolittle, why some people are seeing a talking jaguar, or what the heck is going on with the death mask Rubenstein has been wearing that seems to give him superhuman abilities.
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That death mask continues to be the creepiest thing in Unfollow, especially since it was cracked. It's this haunting look with a wide-mouthed smile and broken eyes, always staring forward and never changing. Quinton Winter's colors make it leap off the page in brilliant gold with blood red hair flowing around it. It's the kind of thing that you instinctively want to walk away from, but you'd want to keep your eyes on it while you do so.
Unfollow is rocketing towards its conclusion and I'm not confident there's enough space to fit everything in. It makes me wonder if the book was cut short, as I would have expected it to have fleshed out some more of these elements over time. Instead we're diving headfirst into the final confrontation as the 140 dwindle down to a smaller and smaller number. There is a lot of money on the line and these people have made it clear that they're willing to do almost anything to get their hands on it.