Be Careful What Others Wish For: Reviewing ‘Eight Billion Genies’ #2
by Scott Redmond
Eight Billion Genies lays out the groundwork for this wish-driven world and what might be on the way while ramping up the madness that has been unleashed by those who are too impulsive with the wishes they have been granted. A whimsical and fun story that is also tinged with pure horror because it gives an all too realistic view of what human nature will cause if humans were given such unfettered power over reality itself.
A genie for every single person on Earth on the surface might sound like a cool deal but the first issue of Eight Billion Genies quickly showed how that was not the case. The second issue takes that and moves into overdrive where the true horror of every single human having a wish truly begins to showcase itself.
Having the pages where the Earth is shown in its various forms (people keep wishing it into different shapes) and which time unit with an 8 we’re focusing on as well as the population is such a great idea. Not only does it establish that in this issue we’re dealing with the first 8 hours of the genies being here, but it quickly establishes the stakes. The human population is down almost 800,000,000 (800 million) people in just the first few minutes and hours of this.
Also, Charles Soule showcasing a family here where the parents quickly realize this means their kids get wishes and stop it, with the father saying “you are children, I love you all but everything you want is stupid” really hits hard. Not because the dad might or might not be right, but because in many ways it could be applied to all those that blew their wishes quickly in this new world. All the danger comes from those that were impulsive, while some (as we see with our main characters in the bar) used it quickly and got nothing out of it.
At the same time, the father’s wish here might end up being ‘stupid’ in the long run because with how the world is going, he might be dooming his kids to not be able to use their wishes should something happen to him. Even the wishes that seem smarter on the surface right now carry the potential for doom with them. Unless the wish was to protect your place and the people within it from the wishes outside like Mr. Williams did for the patrons of the Lampwick Bar & Grill.
I’m glad that Soule made sure to spend time laying out the rules and some of the reasoning that the genies have for why they are doing what they are doing. Them keeping the reason overall why secret, unless someone wishes for it, definitely has some ominous tone to it. Even them stating they gave one wish instead of three because a lot of people would not use their wishes smartly, while we’re witnessing how destructive even one wish a piece is, definitely speaks to how despite how cute they look there is something not quite right here.
All the big nations wishing for the same thing, superiority, that cancel each other out was so on point. We all know that is exactly the type of stuff that would go down if wishes were real. Though in reality some of them might wish to just wipe out another nation rather than superiority, so there is that whole big of depressing stuff to consider. We also get to see how the genies appreciate the “art” of wishing when one character uses their wish to bring back a loved one, another uses it to become what he needs to be to survive this world, and we even get to see some dead famous people including a fictional character along the way.
With this second issue, Ryan Browne’s artwork easily slides between the more subtle sort of nature it had last issue, at least within the bar, and the more outrageous and in-your-face that we see in the rest of the issue with how the world is just crumbling into chaos. Even with the more normal portions, there is still the fantastical element with the genies who embody a very cosmic sort of energy with their whimsical and colorful and almost charming forms.
There is so much detail to everything, characters emotions are clear and on display as we get a lot of focus on humans and their condition in this chaotic world. I like that there are tons of bright splashes of colors to be found yet at the same time they are also somewhat toned down and subdued while keeping their fantastical sort of nature. There are wild things, I mean there is a Carasaurus after all, but they still seemingly fit into the scope of the world aesthetically. This makes sense because by using these wishes these things that are bizarre and imaginary or not within our usual scope of reality are being forced into reality rather than being something from outside reality.
I love that while the artwork might have some subtle or more realistic nature to it, the SFX that are found all over the place are big and colorful and fantastical even when found within the more ‘normal’ confines of the bar. Such a great touch.
Chris Crank keeps up the different sorts of energy when it comes to the dialogue/captions, from the more normal to the more fantastical switching back and forth so easily depending on certain pages or the needs of pages/panels. All the genies’ bubbles are just full of such cute but mischievous energy not only from their look (which matches the genies’ color) but in the delivery of the dialogue. Just like the great touch of having characters’ dialogue turn blue when they make their wishes, making it clear what is happening as the magic is put into effect.
Eight Billion Genies #2 is now available from Image Comics