• PH34R sits on a bed using a laptop
    W0rldtr33 #1
    James Tynion IV
    Fernando Blanco
    Aditya Bidkikar
    Cover Artist:
    Fernando Blanco
    Image Comics
    Release Date:
    Jordie Bellaire

In 1999, Gabriel and his friends discovered the Undernet, a secret architecture to the Internet. They charted their exploration on a message board called W0RLDTR33, lost control, and eventually thought they had sealed off the Undernet for good. Now a mysterious antagonist named PH34R seeks to unleash the violence of the Undernet on the world in W0rldtr33, the brand-new horror series published by Image Comics. W0rldtr33 #1, written by James Tynion IV with art by Fernando Blanco, colors by Jordie Bellaire, letters by Aditya Bidikar, edits by Steve Fox, and design by Dylan Todd, introduces readers to a disturbingly prescient story.

The issue starts with PH34R, a mysterious tattooed woman in a hotel room of someone she presumably just murdered, connecting to the Undernet via a laptop. From here, she makes a few clicks, and the story shifts to a point of view perspective as readers follow a teenager as he live-streams a murder spree. The teen later revealed that showing people glimpses of the Undernet overloads their senses, as if their minds can't process what it's seeing. Readers are introduced to Gibson's brother as he and his girlfriend are on their way to visit Gibson and to Gabriel as he watches a new report on the murders. Gabriel contacts Liam to coordinate a plan to stop the spread of the Undernet.

Point of view panels of a teenager walking through a home

Tynion IV balances a handful of threads incredibly effectively here. More blatant sci-fi elements are mixed brilliantly with relevant issues. The viral nature of violence on the internet is literalized here. Violence on the internet and the radicalization and indoctrination of youths on forums are taken to dramatic heights, but the ideas are ripped right from modern-day headlines. Teens live-streaming mass murders is not an exaggeration, it's the reality we live in, and Tynion IV's thoughtful writing makes it fascinating and deeply disturbing.

Blanco's art is emotive and expertly paced throughout. The narrative jumps between PH34R, Ellison, and Gabriel. Each sequence keeps mostly consistent page layouts while the scene unfolds. This consistency helps create a rhythm while also making each section stand apart from the others. Characters' emotions are rendered with insightful detail, as some narrative beats hinge solely on the art conveying a particular mood or reaction. The violence depicted is brutal but not hyper-fixated. Acts of terror unfold, and the story plows forward, unwilling to grant time to process.

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A Prius driving in the mountains

Bellaire's colors bring this book to life in a magnificent way. There's a softness to the shading that contrasts with the harsh world the book presents. Blue and orange shades have a wonderful depth to them. Some panels and pages feature one overpowering color scheme to elevate the mood. Bidikar's letters populate the pages with carefully crafted speech bubbles. The font and bubble outlines have a handcrafted feel that makes the story feel more genuine, while creative sound effects bring the world on each page to life.

This book won't be for everyone and may hit too close to home in its content, but that's what makes it so compelling. It feels genuinely interested in exploring the impact near-constant exposure to violence has on people and how dangerous that can be. This issue has it all -- disturbing and intriguing horror, fascinating science fiction concepts, and a robust cast of characters. With W0rldtr33 #1, Tynion and the rest of the creative team deliver an unsettling and engaging series debut.