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‘W0rldtr33 #2:’ Comic Book Review

There’s something about the routine of our days that gives meaning to life: worrying about kids, wondering about your big break, trying to date and worrying about how to flirt, shopping for clothes, and having someone you care about. These are things that many of us deal with. But when those things are taken away, we’re thrown into something unknown.

Sometimes, the unknown can be an epic adventure, like discovering life-changing medicine or saving people from something they don’t even know about. Other times, it’s a nightmare. W0rldtr33 #2 by James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco takes a look into what happens when our world is interrupted after we just saved it.

Issue two picks up shortly after the previous issue. Ellison is in police custody, trying to answer why his brother killed 60 people, and who the woman we only know as PH3AR is. Gabriel and his group – who’ve battled the Undernet – are reunited with a particular insight into two members, Darren and Amanda, and their battle against this malevolent force all those years ago.

If it wasn’t obvious before, Tynion is providing a commentary on the way people, especially young people, are susceptible to the influences of what we see online. It should come as no surprise that who we are and the choices we make have become much more influenced by the things we see online. Although good can come from that, the opposite can be just as true; if there’s something that inspires violence, then violence is what we will get.

This idea can hit too close to home, though. This story is about regular people becoming influenced to commit great acts of terror by something they see online, a situation that can be all too real. But that’s how the horror in this story works so well: the human element underneath it all.

Technology can seem magical, and the people who wield it may seem like a magician who studied for centuries to master these “mystical arts.” But there are humans beneath it all, with hopes and fears, actively going to the next part of their life. Tynion writes these humans flawlessly, imperfections and all, and Blanco makes them come to life with his art. Everyone is unique in this story; everyone feels like someone we’ve met before.

There are humans at the heart of this story, from Ellison to even PH3AR herself. If the Undernet is influencing these violent acts of terror, then that means they were people with those same kinds of hopes and dreams before it was influenced. In the previous issue, Ellison explained how his brother, Gibson, was an angsty teen, but that holds a different meaning now than it has before.

Returning to the story, we’re given an insight into the battle the W0rldtr33 forum group (not their official title) had to undertake to seal the Undernet away. The trauma these people experienced seems to have caused all of them to never want to be reminded of that time, but the fact that they all instinctively return illustrated how dire this situation is. Darren and Amanda’s conversation sheds a lot of light on their previous battle with the Undernet, especially with how serious it all is. Fausta ⎯ a podcaster who seems to reflect the modern exploitation-like nature of true crime podcasts (another conversation all on its own) ⎯ gets a first-hand look at the Undernet herself, and Darren and Amanda are all but convinced that if they can’t save her, they will have to kill her, something they may have had to do more than once before.

Which brings us back to the Undernet and, by extension, Ph3ar herself. Is its need to spread and cause intense acts of violence its purpose? Were Ph3ar and Gibson affected the same way as Fausta? It’s almost as if zombie rules, but with computers and screens.

Regardless of the mystery at hand, the answer is surely not to come all at once, which keeps you coming back for more. W0rldtr33 #2 is a worthy second issue of this new series, enveloping you with horror, mystery, and amazing artwork that leaves you anxiously awaiting the next issue.

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
Click here to purchase.

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