Slave To The Algorithm: Advanced Review of Friendo #2 From Paknadel, Simmonds & Vault

by Olly MacNamee

When you clearly have daddy issues, maybe it’s not the best of ideas to throw yourself into the deep end of Artificial Intelligence and make friends with your AI-created, personified Alexa. But, that’s exactly what sidelined stuntman Leopold Yoof has done, with little fight from his girlfriend either. If anything, she enables him by leaving cash at home so he can go buy unnecessary things online (sounding familiar yet?) just so he can summon up his own personal genie. But then, how many of us have even got the fight in us to tear ourselves away from social media and the internet, or our loved ones for that matter? Are we all slaves to the algorithms?
Broke, but desperate to keep up this artificial, consumerist-driven friendship, Yoof will go to any lengths to keep up the pretense: begging, borrowing, stealing. All the while, the manufacturers have heard there’s a stray model running about, but with legal covering their asses, they don’t give a monkey’s about it. If they ain’t liable, it ain’t their problem. Hmm, that sounds rather familiar too, right?

As Leo’s life spirals downwards, his additions only seem to strengthen and it would seem he’s willing to let everything fall apart just so he can spend more time with his demented AI ‘buddy’, Jerry. Alex Paknadel’s script certainly throws up intriguing questions relevant to the way we live our lives, but more importantly, the way in which society is heading, thanks to our own ignorant willingness to be part of this great technological push. One that is seeing us all spend far too much time on our phones, tablets, whatever, and becoming increasing more dependent on how many likes we get on our Insta accounts than real-life experiences that haven’t been airbrushed and prearranged.
Martin Simmonds’ stripped back artwork continues to be a great fit for this stylish sci-fi thriller. While his art on Punks Not Dead is more textured and lavish, here it is more modern and slick with Dee Cuniffe’s colours giving us a false sense of lightness and brightness appropriate for LA, but not the direction the story is heading. Not what you’d expect as a mise-en-scene for a grind house story like this one, but it so works. The sun only covers up the darkness in Leo’s soul.
Friendo #2 is a great second issue with the subject matter played out in the script being both relevant and entertainingly presented through this book with amazing, crisp airy art that covers darker tones below. Leo sinks lower and lower, abandoning all save his unreal ‘friend’ and while it’s sad to see, it’s also very compelling. Like Facebook, I’m addicted to this book. I can’t wait to consume the next issue now. Hmmm, I wonder if Alexa will pre-order it for me?

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