In 1999, Gabriel and his friends saved the world using the chatroom, W0RLDTR33. Their battle was fought against a secret section of the Internet called the Undernet which was trying to infect everything, sealing it for good… or so they thought. Now, someone named PH34R seems to have found the Undernet and is unleashing it once again, but this time with all of the new technology of the 21st century.
The story jumps between three different viewpoints – that of PH34R, Gabriel, and Ellison – each with a different and drastic connection to the Undernet. The Undernet immobilizes people who see it, but aside from that, what it is or does is still a mystery to the reader.
W0RLDTR33, written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Fernando Blanco, hearkens back to the ’90s stories about computers and hackers saving the world using a floppy disk; however, it builds on them. It’s the natural progression of those stories, and it only makes sense that it’s a horror series. There’s a point in the story, a small panel where Gabriel says, “The tools today are far beyond what existed back then,” which is the most foreboding and frightening part of the entire issue. The world we live in is connected and more open than it ever was, and the ability for an idea to spread, no matter how corrupted it is, is much easier than it has been before. (I’m looking at you, Twitter.)
Whatever the Undernet is, we can infer that it’s not for the betterment of humanity, which is kind of the point of the issue. It plays on the idea of the negative side of influencers and influencer culture, showing how it can be used to corrupt anyone, especially anyone already susceptible to toxic behavior. Tynion doesn’t shy away from the negativity of the edgelord phase many went through, even name-dropping 4chan as a source of that culture. And just as this negativity can become toxic, so too do characters in W0RLDTR33 become toxic in the worst way possible.
There’s a lot to be said about the art, as well, with the expertly drawn characters, background, and action. A lot of that has to do with the colors, as they highlight the beautiful nature of the world contrasted with the harsh actions of some of the characters.
It should be warned, though, that some of the content could be triggering to some people in light of its violence and domestic terrorism. Nevertheless, there is a lot of analysis of influencers, online behavior, and the world inside and outside the web, and whether there is a separation between the two anymore.
To put it plainly, the W0RLDTR33 #1 is a shocking, disturbing, and amazing debut issue ⎯ from the story to the lettering, everything about it hits all the right notes. The chatspeak, the mystical technology, the codenames, the staple spooky blonde that Tynion is becoming known for: All of it adds up to an amazing debut issue that you won’t want to miss.
Creative Team: James Tynion IV (writer/co-creator); Fernando Blanco (art/co-creator); Jordie Bellaire (colors); Aditya Bidikar (letters); Steve Foxe (editor); Dylan Todd (design)
Publisher: Image Comics
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