Now, tell me what you want - what you really, really want. That is a question that is easier to ask than to answer. And then there is the cost, I mean not everything that makes that offer is made of sugar and spice. Which brings me to the entities that appear in Image Comics new series Eight Billion Genies. In Issue # 1 their offer seems simplistic, though their intentions aren’t obvious.
Eight Billion Genies # 1 (of 8)
Written by: Charles Soule
Art, Colors, Design: Ryan Browne
The opening of Charles Soule’s story shows that tomorrow is a big day. For starters it’s Robbie’s birthday. As he enters the Lampwick Bar, owner Will Williams greets him by asking what his birthday wish will be for. As locations for stories go, I feel this works once you realize what’s to come. Personally I don’t think the bar was set too low, where else can you imagine running into such a diverse cast. A struggling band with a love triangle developing, Robbie’s passed out dad and a lost pregnant couple all end up in the Lampwick just in time for some spirited arrivals.
Of course Robbie isn’t the only one who today is a special one for. We get images of a Paris delivery room as a new human emerges. And the mysterious pregnant couple, whose GPS bought them to the Lampwick instead of the Lamplighters Bar, seem like their baby is due soon too. But none of these births are as life changing as the sudden appearance of a genie. Correction, eight billion genies - one for each person on Earth.
The genies seem to offer their gift as both a challenge and a caution. They offer each individual only one wish, with an added note that this is a you get what you “really” mean scenario. Given that they look like an updated version of the Family Circus character “Not Me”, I don’t feel they have much concern for how everyone uses their wish. Will was wise enough to anticipate the chaos a wish can unleash. His unselfish act may ultimately be what saves all mankind.
The images in Eight Billion Genies # 1 really sell the severity of the story. It is easy to overlook the subtle instances where the world has been changed by a casual wish. Ryan Browne does a fabulous job containing what the genie’s offer unleashes. As the story unfolds, the illustrations take the form of whatever the mind can conceive. However, in the midst of the hysteria the reality of Soule’s tale doesn’t become overly comical. Giants, super heroes and more find a way into the pages of this first issue.
In a matter of the eight minutes you begin to realize the true potential and problem of each genie’s promise. A splash page conveniently tracks the wishes (and humans) remaining. While the physical results show there are no limits to the imagination, the sociological implications are a bit disturbing. People begin to show their true nature. What they think of themselves and others becomes evident as not just their desires but their priorities manifest as well.
Eight Billion Genies # 1 starts with what most may argue is an easy question. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time to answer. Perhaps the arriving Imps were betting on our impulsive nature to create an implosion.