Bands getting into comics is not a new phenomenon. By some accounts, Jimmy Eat World contemporaries Coheed & Cambria got into music so that they could break into comics (which is a strange career path but, hey, it worked out in their favor); KISS made their debut in 1977’s Howard the Duck #12, and have just sort of stuck around, presumably for the rest of human history. This, it seems, is the intersection where Z2 Comics has set up shop — the company has created a line of music-adjacent comic books.
Jimmy Eat World’s 555, then, isn’t as large of an oddity as one might think it to be, but it is an oddity nonetheless. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why it’s branded with the Jimmy Eat World name. Sure, the book is co-written by the band’s frontman, Jim Adkins (who the band isn’t named after, by the way), and is named after a song from their most recent album, 2019’s Surviving, but seems more based on the video for that song than the song itself (or the album it comes from).
The comic deals primarily with an intergalactic cloning facility, a violent corporate shutdown thereof, and the facility manager’s harrowing survival with his clone-friends on a wild planet. Which, if you’re aware of Jimmy Eat World’s usual narratives of half-formed romance unfulfilled, is a pretty wild place to be.
The story itself, while not exactly the freshest take on science fiction tropes, is filled with peculiar tidbits of hyper-specific detail that are never discussed again, whether it be the scientist protagonist’s dead family…
…or the implied corporate hierarchy, unexplored.
There’s a not-quite fulfilled identity parable, here: our protagonist might be one of the clones he creates, mistreats, and then comes to love, which would make this a story of coming to care for ourselves, flaws and all. This allegorical thread is never fully sussed out, however, and gets muddied beneath that dystopian corporate intrigue, the stranded-on-a-planet plot development, and some giant ants.
This narrative vagueness limits the effectiveness of the book; coupled with some uneven art by illustrator Koren Shadmi (whose central work is much, much more finely rendered than anything in 555), the book never quite finds itself. Rather, it seems like a lot of half-considered ideas thrown together rather than explored and considered.
It seems like a rushed product, one which the publisher might hope will sell specifically on the Jimmy Eat World brand itself. The thing is I’m a pretty big Jimmy Eat World fan, but getting “Sweetness” stuck in my head does this book no favors. If anything, it drives the disappointment home even harder. If Jim Adkins wants to write comics, let him write comics. If Jimmy Eat World needs more merch, might I recommend literally anything else that’s easier to move from merch booth to merch booth than heavy ass boxes of subpar books? Maybe a split with The Get Up Kids or an album of superfan Taylor Swift covers.
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