Advance Review: Friendo #5 Is One Part Dark Humor, One Part Social Commentary, With A Good Pinch Of Horror

by Olly MacNamee

Friendo has been a series that has taken a deeper look, through a near-distant future and some well chosen satirical swipes at Corporate America, at our relationship with technology and our ever-growing over-reliance on. This final issue does not disappoint in the weirdness or the horror, culminating in a rather bitter-sweet ending that you could hardly describe as ‘happy ever after’. One part dark comedy and one part social commentary with a good pinch of horror one may not have expected from a comic that’s whole artistic tone is gloriously at odds with the series’ message.
Martin Simmonds and Dee Cunliffe once again give us a Miami Vice tinted colour scheme that relates a glow and sheen that is nothing but a veneer to the darker heart below the surface. A perfect look for this book and the shiny, bright technology we consume without a thought about some of the rapacious business practices behind their creation. Business practices that are often without ethical or moral grounding, all in the pursuit of profit for the few. Not for the first time is Corporate America the real villain of the piece, personified in Rex Carrington, a man who one would call stereotypical in some ways, but even stereotypes have their precedence in reality and, sadly, with stories daily of the ultra wealthy dodging taxes, paying off people and generally treating the 99% as inferior, it’s a poor indictment of many modern successful business types out there. Trump may be the most extreme example, but there are far more like him out there with their hands firmly on the steering wheels of society.

But, back to this concluding issue, Friendo #5, out March 27th from Vault Comics. What we get is the ultimate synergy between humanity and technology and a citizenship of consumer more than happy to keep up with the Joneses regardless of the social and cultural costs to our very souls. It’s a sad state of affairs we’ve gotten ourselves into really, and writer Alex Paknadel is more than happy to poke at this scab and find humour in this very 21st century disease. It’s all wrapped up in a finale brimming with action and a suitably sour hitman, Zajicek, who has juts learnt that his last hit was not complete. Having already frittered away the cash at a casino, he has no other choice but to go back and finish off anti-hero Leo Yoof, or be rubbed out himself. All the while being live streamed while he’s doing it. After all, in the world of commerce everything is up for sale. An all too sorry state of affairs which got this whole series off and running in the first place.

The overall feel for me is that of a Hollywood action/conspiratorial film but with some very different narrative ideas thrown in to offer a surreal world that we can still recognise as all too real and all too close for comfort. Leo started the series off as a world class loser. And, I’m not too sure how far he’s actually come since then. After all, I’ve seen many a famous person on the gogglebox that are far from inspirational. Seems everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame these days, but not everyone can keep hold of it. And, if they do, is it all worth it?
Friendo #5, out March 27th from Vault Comics.

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