The Power Of Friendship: Reviewing ‘Eight Billion Genies’ #6
by Scott Redmond
‘Eight Billion Genies’ keeps the human element at its heart as the series moves deeper into a world that has been forever changed since the day that the genies arrived. Fantastical and darkly gorgeous, the series wears its emotions on its sleeves, keeping the reader engaged with fully fleshed-out real-feeling characters as the years march on by.
The first eight months following the arrival of eight billion genies left the Earth a truly unrecognizable place. Now those pockets of humanity that survived must find ways to survive and keep going through the first eight years of this new world.
Sure Eight Billion Genies is about humans getting genies and so many using their wishes for detrimental or selfish or dumb reasons, diving into realms touching fantasy and superheroes and more, but at its core, it’s a smaller story. One of the things I noted early on that helped this book greatly was the handful of characters that were in the Lampwick Tavern on the day the genies arrived, who has become the central cast that we follow. Over the previous issues, we got to spend more time with them, especially certain ones. Now that the Earth was “fixed” by the Idea Man in the previous issue and our cast split up, we get way more time to explore with some of them.
Charles Soule makes these characters so full and diverse in personality and desires and how they go about doing things. It feels like we’ve been with them for far more than just six issues now. With the final two issues covering eight decades and eight centuries we’re likely not going to see many of these characters again or for long (unless the few with a wish left use it) so having this issue was quite nice.
Another thing that Soule does so well is expanding the lore of this world, even six issues in we’re still learning new wrinkles about how the wishes work and how it affects humanity.
Even with the world less absurd and in danger it’s still a pretty absurd and dangerous place, and mixing those two worlds is something Ryan Browne is so good at doing. Browne nails both the action and more expositional moments, making the action flow around and the quieter moments have a lot of well-placed close-ups so that we can easily see and feel whatever is meant to be conveyed at that moment. Progression of time is huge in this series of course and it’s depicted excellently here, as it feels natural to the characters and the world.
While the wildness might have died down thanks to the Idea Man’s wish, there is still tons for Browne to bring to the page to give the issues some creative flourish. From the genius-constructed polaroid montage page (such a great way to document the years passing saving page space for other moments) to the visuals of Fun City and what Robbie is up to for the Idea Man. As well as the truly metal pages of the Bada-Bangs rocking out. Not to mention the heartwrenching moment that the haven that the band found in North Carolina ceased to exist.
Paneling styles are something I have come to appreciate and like far more over time and the style choices here are just great, especially incorporating so many circular and other abnormally shaped panels rather than just squares or rectangles. Genies being able to burst out of the panels and exist beside or outside of them is not only a great visual hook but speaks fully to their overall meta power. Breaking those walls, and they don’t have to tell us that they are doing so.
Still loving how the world and the characters have a lot of shadows and toned-down natural colors to them while the genies and other elements have colors that are more vivid and bright and out there to match their status within our world. Browne and Kevin Knipstein have such a solid style of coloring that is smooth without feeling overly slick (which is not a bad thing but wouldn’t be fitting for Browne’s artwork or this world) which makes the world feel realistic even in the shadows of the fantastical. It allows things like the genies and other fantastical elements to stand out more because they are brighter/more vivid compared to the world around them.
Since we’re far more focused on the characters in this one than the horrendous wishes that took up a lot of space (naturally) previously, there is a ton of dialogue. Chris Crank though makes sure it all fits and naturally flows, never feeling overwhelming or hard to follow. Having the genies’ bubbles and text be as different as their own appearance helps to break things up, especially when they are the ones talking through many of the pages to narrate how the rest of our characters are doing. Have to also love the great colorful, varied SFX that we get all over the place to help us hear things from the page. Even in the worst moments, the SFX bring a bit of levity with a ‘fun’ air to them.
Eight Billion Genies #6 is now available from Image Comics.