Every issue of ‘Eight Billion Genies’ balanced perfectly on a line of outrageous fantastical elements mixed with a whimsical air and a true sense of terror as the human race move themselves closer to wish fulfilled extinction. A take on super-powered beings takes the spotlight but the found family of protagonist characters is the true heart of this series, as another wild yet not-so-wild twist comes to the forefront.
In a world where superhero stories are all the rage once more, especially dominant at the theatrical box office, it makes perfect sense that if billions were given one wish that there would be many that would use that wish to be a hero. While others would use it to become supervillains, unleashing chaos everywhere they go. With Eight Billion Genies #4 the age of super people has begun.
In the first two issues, the movement of time by elements related to eight wasn’t as noticeable being minutes and hours, but now that we’ve gotten to the point of weeks it’s very evident. Watching the young Robbie deal with the reality of being a super-powered being in this truly wrecked world is heart-wrenching, especially with some of the later twists that come with his fellow superheroes.
Through all these issues I like how even with things being mostly straightforward, billions of humans are given a wish, and most abuse it in terrible ways, Charles Soule is so great at slipping in some big, unexpected twists. In this case, the later revealed backstory for the bartender Will is one of those situations that is both unexpected and makes so much expected sense at the same time. Once he actually asks “Isn’t it obvious?” before the reveal, it all just clicks into place so well.
Soule has made sure to work out a delicate balance with the genies where it’s hard to fully pin down how one might feel about them. In some senses they are caring and trying to help but also, they speak about how funny it is to do this to humanity with the wishes and what they hope for. Will’s big revelation adds a whole new set of stakes for the situation, and really raises so many questions about the past of the world.
Ryan Browne is so darn good at being able to perfectly mix a whimsical fantasy type of style with brutal horror and superhero hijinks. Even when things get brutal and gruesome, they never reach a level of like gratuitous gore in style. Sure, there is blood and bodies that are moved into formats that are not natural or survivable, but it’s handled in a specific way.
Eight billion wishes gives Browne so much space to draw a whole swath of character or genre types, while also bringing great life to a more normal situation within the Lampwick Bar. Part of what helps with the mentioned duality of feeling around the genies is how artistically Browne is able to make them look soft and welcoming but also a powerful cosmic force of terror in other spaces, ramping up the darkness or lightness of their blue coloring respectively.
Within the bar is also the home base for the reader as this is where our protagonists mostly are and it’s the last piece of normalcy left in this world. We see this not only because all the wishes are happening outside, thanks to Will’s wish protection, but also because of the ways that Browne handles the two worlds artistically. Outside of the bar are big bright colorful things, everything splashy or flashy, especially around the super beings, while still having a semi-toned-down nature to them. Inside the bar though things are even more toned down as the colors are more akin to reality with more shadows and a sense of grounding.
We’re given a whole lot of dialogue in this issue, alongside the action, as the plot takes its major leaps forward, but we also see the bar folks becoming closer. It’s on Chris Crank to make sure it flows well through the issue and comes at the reader with the same personality/energy as the rest of the story, and that’s something that Crank does so easily. Just like Browne, there is a lot of room for Crank to stretch this issue with all the colored bubbles and SFX with their colors and styles.
Eight Billion Genies #4 is now available from Image Comics.