Friendo Issue 4 hits comic book store shelves February 13, 2019 from Vault Comics, writer Alex Paknadel, artist Martin Simmonds, colorist Dee Cunniffe and letterer Taylor Esposito. Here is my advanced review:
Series Synopsis: Leo wasn’t allowed toys as a kid, but now that he’s all grown up he’s going to take yours. He used to play by the rules, but then governments and corporations set fire to the rules and still expected him to behave. He probably would have if it hadn’t been for his new friend Jerry. See, Jerry isn’t human; he’s a personalised marketing VR… and he’s malfunctioning. Unhinged ultraviolence from Alex Paknadel (ARCADIA) and Martin Simmonds (PUNKS NOT DEAD), with letters by Taylor Esposito.
Issue 4 Synopsis: Thanks to an obscure piece of legislation, Jerry and Leo are now above the law. As they rob big-box stores up and down the west coast with The Manufacturer’s blessing, their violent exploits are livestreamed to millions of disaffected consumers who’ve been told “no” one too many times. Beginning to tire of their new status as folk heroes, Jerry and Leo’s final heist takes a brutal turn when corporate assassin Zaj Xek the Cremator gets them in his sights.
“And Honestly, with Brett’s spastic colon I just don’t think I have room for more tragedy in my life,” the faceless lady says as she chats with her friend over cigarettes and coffee while young Leo plays in the yard not knowing that his foster parents are planning to ditch him back into the system because he has too much of an imagination due to growing up with no technology. This opening page was full of so much sadness and dark comedy that I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing, cringing, or both…
Flash forward to present day and Leo is a reality TV sensation trying to hang himself in his hotel bathroom before an agent interrupts his suicide attempt so that he can sign his likeness away for an action figure. Seems profits are way up for the company that owns the chain of grocery stores that Leo and his hologram Friendo Jerry have been robbing, so people are anticipating and CRAVING the criminal duo’s pending thefts. This fun little vibe of writer Alex Paknadel and artist Martin Simmonds’ story in this fourth issue reminded me a lot of the romanticising of murderers in Oliver Stone’s cult classic Natural Born Killers. You’ll notice that too when fans begin following Leo and Jerry to see their crimes in person.
Meanwhile, bunny-eared hitman Zajicek has been waiting impatiently in Disneyland for the greenlight to finally assassinate his intended target – Leo, but he keeps getting the runaround since profits are up. Zajicek seems to be having a lot of fun, but as much joy as rollercoasters and sex with panda-faced women can be – it doesn’t stop him from worrying about his trigger finger losing that magical murder touch. I love when he yells at his employer over the phone to say, “NO MORE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT PENGUINS!”. I really like this character a lot because he reminds me of Tommy Lee Jones, but with soulless pitch black eyes and shark teeth…
The final few pages are exhilarating, hilarious and drenched in blood. I don’t know how long this Friendo series is intending to stick around, but it feels like a drastic and unsettling conclusion is on the horizon for Leo and Jerry after the shocking events of issue 4. This series has been a lot of fun so far and the underlying commentary in regards to social media and advertising has been disturbing to say the least considering the current climate of big business in 2019.