Review – Unfollow #16 (Vertigo Comics)


Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Mike Dowling
Release Date: 15th February, 2017

One hundred down, forty to go.

With writer Rob Williams taking the bold decision to transport his story one year into the future in the previous issue, the series as a whole feels rejuvenated here as we are gradually re-introduced to these new versions of existing characters. The names and faces are the same, but our small band of survivors – Dave, Courtney, Deacon, Ravan, Rubinstein – have all clearly gone through some serious shit over the last twelve months, and have each come out the other side changed in their own unique way.

Now, as they find themselves closing in on the decidedly “not dead” Larry Ferrell, there’s a sense of finality to the proceedings that suggests that the stakes are about to be raised even higher (assuming that’s even possible) in the months to come. Once again Williams uses his action sequences sparingly, injecting them with a sense of realism that never feels overblown or blockbuster-y, a remarkable accomplishment considering we’re talking about helicopters being shot out of the air with RPGs.

Away from the island, Akira’s “social media frontier” rages on, even in the wake of his untimely death. The themes being explored by Williams here hit intentionally close to home, particularly given the worrying trend of current real-world events,  the culture of “fake news” in particular. As the Chairman of the Church of Akira himself proudly asserts to the FBI, “No one cares about the truth. Not anymore. Human beings only care about what they want to hear. What suits their needs, their fears, their desires.” Powerful stuff indeed, and hugely relevant in today’s day and age.

Once again, Mike Dowling’s artwork feels perfectly suited for a title like this, and while his level of detail isn’t perhaps as high as some other artists, he captures the emotion and the drama of Williams’ script beautifully. He also helps underscore the realism of the series, grounding everything with a feeling that, hey, this could very easily happen. Also, the changes he has made to the character designs of our leads in the gap between issues fourteen and fifteen really help to sell the story, with some of the changes feeling quite subtle and others being far more drastic. I’m looking at you, Dave.

There’s a worrying trend with high-concept stories like this where the writer rapidly runs out of momentum once the initial intrigue of the premise wears off. Well, I’m happy to report that this is definitely not the case with Unfollow, as Rob Williams continues to pile on new layers of intrigue to what may very well be his finest creation. Oh, and Williams has Ferrell drop a (thankfully metaphorical) bomb on the final pages that promises to change everything. And I mean everything. Unmissable stuff, and the highest of recommendations for this series as always.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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