Quick- if you could have any one wish, what would it be? In my experience that’s probably the best question you can ask of someone if you really want to know them. The answer reveals a lot about our own fears, desires, and impulses, and also says a lot about what we truly value in life.
Oddly enough, this is a question I have often pondered. When I was much, much younger, I saw the movie The Wishmaster, which taught me two things – 1) Never trust a genie, and 2) Be very careful what you wish for.
Since then I’ve often found it to be a useful thought experiment to consider how exactly I would phrase the perfect wish. Most of my versions revolve around getting Wolverine’s healing factor, and being able to share it with everyone, which honestly is the best wish you could make. Eternal life free from age and disease sounds a lot better than a billion dollars or the ability to fly. Then again, some people might be horrified at the idea of eternal life, and the thought of watching eternity fade away underneath them might be too terrifying a prospect to imagine.
And that’s the rub when it comes to wishes. What sounds good in the moment is not nessicarily what’s going to be the best thing long term. For a lot of people, the things they would wish for now would be very different from what they would wish for as children, or seniors, or if their genders or ethnicities were different, or if they lived in another part of the world. Each person’s desires would be subject to a million other factors, both seen and unseen, and the results of even one person having the power to have their deepest desire come true could be catastrophic for everyone else on the planet.
Now imagine if everyone got to make one wish.
Which, of course, brings us to this week’s review, Eight Billion Genies from Image Comics.
Here’s the blurb: If you had one wish…what would you wish for? Now, what if everyone else had one wish too? That’s EIGHT BILLION GENIES, the new eight-issue series from CHARLES SOULE & RYAN BROWNE (CURSE WORDS). At exactly the same moment, everyone on earth gets a genie and one wish. All hell breaks loose, in a very entertaining way…and that’s just the beginning. Buckle in for the wildest ride of the year!
Now right off the bat I have to say this is the best comic ever written for one simple reason: It takes place in St. Claire Shores, MI. I kid, but as a life long Michigan native I’m not going to lie, I always get a little thrill when the mitten gets used as a setting in a comic (and even more of a thrill when they remember there is more to this state than just Detroit). I mean, seriously, there’s a whole middle of the country between New York and California people! Let’s see it more often!
(Plus one of the background characters is wearing a Vault of Midnight t-shirt, which is a local chain of comic shops and sure, it’s pandering, but pandering to me so I’ll allow it).
In all seriousness, Eight Billion Genies is going to be a blast. When you have people working on it with such a strong pedigree in high concept comics as Charles Soule (Curse Words, Undiscovered Country) and Ryan Browne (also Curse Words, God Hates Astronauts) you know you’re in good hands. This book is going to be a crazy roller coaster ride of a book and I can’t wait to hop onboard.
We open in a calm little bar in St. Claire Shores called The Lamp Wick (get it?). A random group of people, including the staff, a local indie band, and some confused tourist, are suddenly confronted by a group of individual genies, each promising to fulfill a single wish for each person.
While most people panic or are confused, the owner of the bar immediately wishes that no wish made outside the bar could affect the bar or the people in it, essentially providing a safe haven for the patrons as the world around them descends into chaos.
And descend it does. See, these wishes have no rules, so you can wish for whatever you want, and whatever anyone else wishes can undo what you wished for, or what they wished for can prevent your wish from actually coming true. Mere minutes after the genies appear the world is a square, superheroes are running rampant on the street, and there are a lot of creepy incels getting all their fantasies made into reality.
In short, the world will be lucky to survive.
And that’s really both the fun and horror of a book like this. It’s fun to imagine what you would do with one wish, but thinking about what other people could do with theirs has got to send a chill down everyone’s spine, and I have little doubt that Eight Billion Genies is going to dive deep into that chaos!
So check it out and see what you think. It might help you think more about your one wish, or might make you wish that that is a call you will never have to make.
Until next time, stay safe, and be careful what you wish for!