As You Wish: Reviewing ‘Eight Billion Genies’ #1
by Scott Redmond
The team that brought us ‘Curse Words’ is together again to ask the question of what happens when everyone on Earth is given the power to make one wish. This is a really fun and fantastical series so far that gets pretty darn wild, while it grounds itself for the moment within a small dive bar around a small very different cast of characters.
Be careful what you wish for is a phrase that has not only been uttered an uncountable number of times within human society but has been explored a great number of times within our entertainment/pop culture. Generally, it’s conceived of as being careful what a singular person or small group might wish for and those consequences.
Eight Billion Genies takes that premise to the extreme when one has to be careful of what the entire world decides to wish for.
Right away upon hearing about this series its premise gripped and intrigued me, and I knew that I had to check it out, and it truly delivered on every conceivable front. It’s a Curse Words reunion as Charles Soule, Ryan Browne, and Chris Crank are back together again for this new fantasy series which is something really special and fun.
Kicking off the issue with a central location, in this case the Lampwick Bar and Grill, with a small group of characters was a great move. It allows us a bit of time to get to know the group and have a focus before all hell breaks loose. The bartender Mr. Williams being smart enough to use his wish genie to protect the bar and everyone in it from the assured chaos of 8 billion wishes outside was one of those moves that right away I was like, “Oh that’s brilliant.”
Truly there is a ton that is covered in just these first ten pages, allowing us just enough of a foothold into this given world before everything changes.
Not only are there eight billion genies, one for every person on Earth but what happens to the world is broken down into increments of eight as well. We get what happens to the world in the first eight seconds of the genies’ arrival (which includes the bartender’s protection wish) before we jump into the first eight minutes of wish-granting that leads to not only chaos but (thanks to the full-page graphic) the world becoming square and a million people are already dead. The next issue will dive into the first 8 hours of this big change, and keep leaping forward to further increments of time featuring an 8 at the start.
Browne’s art starts off in a much more subdued way than one might expect with his artwork, but it really nails the tone and feel of a dive bar and just the regular world. Darker colors and more Earthy and dulled tones fill these pages. I love the various shapes that the panels take on and how that can be used to frame the page and frame other panels at times. It gives the various scenes some different personality and keeps things moving.
Once the genies begin to arrive and the chaos starts is when there is a more fantastical edge to the artwork and the colors. This more photorealistic to an extent, while maintaining other qualities, beginning work makes far more sense once you reach the genies. They are a more fantastical cosmically colored almost cartoonish sort of entity, taking on some visual elements of the person they are meant to give the wishes to. Beyond this is when we get far more really bright splashes of blue, yellow, and other colors and everything goes full speed into the off-the-wall fantastical.
I mean we have a whole scene where people are giant, they have dinosaurs and robots, aliens arrive, people become superheroes, and tons more wishes come true. It’s wild.
Crank does a great job carrying the two different sorts of energy of the book through the lettering, as the dialogue and the captions move from very grounded to more frantic/energetic as the wishes start happening. There is even a little mischievous energy to the genies dialogue bubbles, as they sow their little bit of chaos through the world. Having the wish dialogue turn blue is a nice touch, matching the genies but also setting it apart from the regular dialogue.
Eight Billion Genies #1 is now available from Image Comics.