collecting the entire 8-issue series.
I knew I was in for something good when I read the name of the creators’ company, Silent E Productions. It’s a joke at once elegant and simple, and sets the perfect tone for this thoughtfully maximalist look at the nightmare question of what would happen if everyone in the world was granted the instant fulfillment of one wish.
Or to be more precise — and as indicated in the title — if each of the 8 billion people on the planet suddenly gained a genie who would grant them one wish. The genies’ handling of these wishes is intent-based and flexible, so someone wishing for world peace wouldn’t find everyone else instantly killed, as the typical cautionary tale goes. Instead this comic explores not only the logistics of wishes but also the most likely outcomes, and a lot of unintended outcomes, too.
The story itself begins in a dive bar, as eight people congregate there for various purposes. Will Williams owns the place, and Brian, Alex and Daisy are members of a rock band about to play a gig there. It’s Robbie’s 12th birthday, and he’s trying to rouse his drunk dad from where dad is slumped on a bar stool. Finally, a young Chinese couple who speak little English stop in looking for directions.
When the (adorable) genies suddenly appear, Will has the presence of mind to wish that no wishes made outside the bar can affect the bar or anyone in it. Thus the Lampwick becomes a haven for our eight main characters, as the rest of the world goes through an extraordinary transformation. But even tho Will, being something of a Doomsday prepper, has laid in enough supplies to allow them to survive there indefinitely, no one wants to live in a bar forever. As people come and go, the Lampwick stays a constant, waiting for the day when only one wish remains, at the disposal of a person who will be able to mold the future irrevocably.
I’m still mulling over the final wish, trying to come up with philosophical arguments for how it would fail. But I’ll tell you, when it was stated, tears sprang instantly to my eyes. It was a beautiful wish, and I want to believe, y’all.
Ryan Browne’s art perfectly complements Charles Soule’s writing, adding depth and plenty of visual gags to the excellent script. The bonus material included in the deluxe edition also shows off the amount of thought poured into the overall design of the book. This is one of those rare, beautiful examples of writer and artist working in flawless synergy to tell a compelling, complex story. I loved it.
Oh, and they’re going to make a movie out of this over at Amazon Studios! It’s going to be totally wild, sort of like The Boys only less nihilistic, and I can’t wait to see it.
Eight Billion Genies: Deluxe Edition by Charles Soule & Ryan Browne was published July 25 2023 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including