We left our frazzled, tech-addicted ‘hero’ Leopold Yoof ready to hold up a hypermarket at gun point in the cliffhanger to issue #2, and we pick up the action directly where we left it in Alex Paknadel and Martin Simmonds’ Friendo #3. But, how does one walk away from such a public crime? After all, if Leo was incarcerated for the rest of this book, it wouldn’t be the most riveting of reads, now would it?
Thankfully Paknadel delivers another biting swipe at the modern world we live in and delivers a script that is one part a gloriously twisted buddy movie style caper, and one part social criticism of a world, and a species, too reliant on technology and far too beholden to corporations and the powers they have on governments. Powers that can allow changes in the law to suit the private few in whose hands the real power lies. The kind of powers that, in real life, delivers to America a tax bill that will, eventually, see only the very wealthy benefit exponentially; the invisible CEOs of global businesses and their cronies so huge they are more powerful than some countries.
Furthermore, as these businesses grow in the comic, and introduce further automation, the real world problems of unemployment and people being valued out of the job market come starkly into view. This is a book that may be set in a near-future Los Angeles, but the message it has to offer is far too real and far too prescient. We are a species that relies on convenience and thus we become lazy. Why queue up an extra few minutes at the checkout when you can breeze through the automated checkouts? Where’s the harm in that? Where’s the harm in one of my friends working in one of the few auto-manufacturing plants in the UK still running, when his role is teaching the computers to do his job? But we run to our own demise obliviously, fed on a diet of America’s Got Talent and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Oh, the horror, the horror!
And, while I loose myself for moment there, it’s why I am enjoying this book so much. The social commentary which, I dare say, we can agree with. After all, it’s not like it’s rammed down our throats. It’s a message that’s at the very heart of this book and a reoccurring theme that Pakandel is growing into more and more with each issue. It’s certainly dark, and Leo should not be coming out ahead at this stage, yet he is.
As for Simmonds? There is no doubt in my mind that he’s becoming a stronger artist with each issue. Where once there were softer, finer lines, Simmonds has no problems delineating has characters mores with thicker, more confident lines. His layouts are, likewise, becoming more and more proficient too. It’s a far cry from the more rendered art of Punks Not Dead, as I’ve said before, but it’s a great developing style that will do him proud, I dare say, as I imagine it’s a quicker process than the aforementioned art of Punks Not Dead. Dee Cunniffe’s colours only complement Simmonds art, allowing it to breathe rather than smothering it. A style, like Simmonds’s own, that is not too overly done.
It’s another storming, interesting and engaging issue that, I do hope, will have you consider the technological world we live in today and maybe, just maybe, consider our own part in its demise. Hey, if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?
Friendo #3 is out December 19th from Vault Comics.