This Thing Called Life: Reviewing ‘Eight Billion Genies’ #7

by Scott Redmond


Grab those tissues as ‘Eight Billion Genies’ #7 brings all the heartache as this penultimate issue begins to tie up the lives of the cast of characters in order to prepare for the ultimate conclusion to this wish-filled saga. Another emotional character-focused bout of wild fantastical human nature-centric adventures brought to colorful sensational life.


Mayhem and chaos have ruled since the moment eight billion genies showed up and changed the world forever. Human ingenuity, cruelty, selfishness, love, selflessness, fear, depression, anger, tenacity, and so many other emotions have been front and center as we’ve followed a cast of characters through a handful of days, months, and years. Now Eight Billion Genies #7 adds a massive dose of heartbreak as the series moves into the first eight decades since G-Day (the day the genies arrived). 

One of the many brilliant moves of this series was how it gathered a diverse, eclectic cast of characters together in a confined protected space at the beginning. This gave us characters to connect and attach to as the world outside the Lampwick Tavern crumbled into chaos and most of humanity ceased to exist over time. Even as those characters parted ways their journeys have colored the past few issues, as they are our eyes into how the world has been changed and the various groups that have risen since the changes. 

We get a ton of that here as Charles Soule and Ryan Browne craft a whole issue of a few decades-long montages, showing our cast of characters as they meet their heartbreaking, tragic, and in some cases untimely ends. Even with all the wishes and magic in play, it’s such a human issue in the emotions and tensions, and issues we are shown at this time. There is even a very cathartic moment where the selfish manipulative Ideas Man meets his end after Robbie loses everything and remembers his mother’s (second) dying words about how terrible the man actually is. A sentient cartoon-like moon taking part in a brutal death is the kind of fantastical stuff that I just love to see. 

Everything means something and no scene is extraneous, and the perfect proof of that has ties to El Futuro’s leader and his son Carlos. It took me quite a bit after reading for the realization to hit me that this was not our first time seeing them. In fact, we saw them early in the series as well as the origin of the city’s rule about no wishes for children. Back in the second issue there was an opening scene with parents realizing that everyone in the world getting a wish meant their children would get wishes too (one of them already blew it on toys) and the father wished they could not use the wishes without his permission. With that wish their genies all became ear-muffed and out of the kid’s control, which is what we see in this issue with Ting-Shu/Betty. 

At the time I just assumed it was a scene meant to show how some others out there were dealing with wishes but nope, it was even more deliberate world-building that paid off in the long run. That’s the good stuff right there. Also, unfortunately for the well-meaning father his belief that his children would one day understand and thank him wasn’t something he lived to see. 

As there are so many years to move through here, Browne gets to go even wilder and wider with the number of things that are on display. Some of the panels and pages are far more intimate with great character focus with all the emotions and body language beautifully rendered. Others have tons of detail, both in focus and in the background, that are wider shows that showcase the various elements of the world. Being able to visit quite a few settlements, some only briefly, we’re able to see so many different settings and elements of how the world has been changed even since the moment when Idea Man sort of hit a kind of reset button. 

I really love how Browne’s work is always able to sort of hit that fun and free sort of feeling but also being so tight and focused with a serious and painful nature to it. Never forgetting the fantastical side of these stories but also making sure that the moments of pain, horror, triumph, fighting, etc really hit home in a way that sticks with one even after the issue is over. His panel choices help to really make a lot of things hit even harder because their shapes and placement add depth or weight or just help keep our focus moving where it should while engaging the story in a way that gets every bit possible out of the world. 

Just like how things are very toned-down and realistic for the most part, full of shadows and more natural tones, in the colors that Browne and Kevin Knipstein employ. All of the fantastical elements from the genies to the powerful individuals or otherworldly entities take up the most vivid of spaces, leaving the humans and their settlements to feel grounded and real because they are akin to the types of colors and spaces that we recognize from our own reality. 

There is a ton happening here and a ton to cover, and Chris Crank once more makes sure that all the dialogue and captions and the rest just fit and flow perfectly through the pages. Even when a page has a ton of character dialogue, such as the very first page, it’s placed in a way that doesn’t take away from any of the action or moments on the page, sliding through the action in a way that allows us to let our eyes move from the artistic focus to the words and then back again. On that first page, it moves down the middle splitting the person-turned-sea entity and the action of Wang fighting it, leading us right down to Lifeng trying to keep the ship going steady and then to Ting-Shu as she is confronted by her genie telling her she’s come of age to make a wish. 

It’s deliberate and precise all while managing to capture the tone/volume of any given moment as well as still having visual fun with the various bits of lettering found on the pages. From the genie bubbles to SFX to various other elements. 

There is still one issue left that covers centuries, and this series is so wild there is no telling what it might cover. By the time this issue closes out the major characters we know are just about all gone, with Daisy as the only one left standing with a wish and now Ting-Shu/Betty also having a wish still to use. There have been hints at where this whole genie thing will lead, with the bartender we met at the start being a former genie himself from the previous genie culling of the Earth, but it’s going to be so fun to see what Soule and Browne have up their sleeves to bring this all home. 

Eight Billion Genies #7 is now available from Image Comics. 

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