Unfollow Vol. 1: 140 Characters

Rob Williams, writer; Mike Dowling, R.M. Guéra, artists; Quinton Winter, Giulia Brusco, colorists

Vertigo Comics, 2016

Unfollow is based on a brilliant topical premise: a social media mogul named Larry Ferrell who has terminal cancer announces that he is giving  his fortune to 140 randomly selected users of the app he created.  They are a diverse group, from all over the globe. From the U.S. there's a rich heiress and her urban opposite number; a messianic Japanese novelist; a British journalist; a deadly Nigerian with an unusual skin condition; and a survivalist who believes that God talks to him directly.

The story is a bit fragmentary at first, as members of the 140 are introduced one by one. By the end of the third issue they have been brought together by their benefactor, and his true purpose has been revealed. It's ultimately a grand social experiment. Since the shares are divided equally among surviving members of the group, each death among their number means a larger share for the survivors. The risk is made very real when one of the select is murdered shortly after their first meeting.

So the basic dynamic has been set up. As Mr. Rubinstein (Mr. Ferrell's possibly insane assistant) puts it: "are you hunters or prey?" The last issue in the collection focuses on one of the 140: Deacon, the one on a mission from God. His history in the military and as a violent vigilante is revealed. As the sole remaining user left on the island--still recovering from injuries when the group departed--we also learn something about Rubinstein's intentions as he makes his escape.

The setup allows for many different stories in settings all over the world. It may not wind up as "in the end there can be only one," but it will be interesting to see where it goes.

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