Charles Soule and Ryan Browne continue their exploration of humanity in Eight Billion Genies #2. The second issue picks right up where the first left off — each human being has their own personal genie that is granting them a single wish, which subsequently turned the world upside down.
This second issue continues the focus on those fortunate to have been inside The Lampwick, a bar whose owner wished would be safe from the chaos of other people’s wishes. The narrow focus allows for some exposition, as the characters at the bar ask the genies some of the obvious questions (why only one wish? Why do this at all? What about opposing wishes?). Not everything gets answered, though, as Soule and Browne keep some of the details under wraps.
What makes Eight Billion Genies #2 shine is the variety of wishes that readers get to see, both in terms of those in the bar, and the world outside. Some wishes are incredibly selfish, others are selfless. Some are foolish, and some come across as very wise. Some are simple, others complex. Charles Soule avoids the pitfall of reducing humanity to a single defining quality in order to say something judgmental.
Browne’s art makes Eight Billion Genies work. The lines have a rough quality to them, which plays well both in the dingy setting of The Lampwick and the chaos of a world in which giant mecha-dinosaurs are roaming about. With the help Kevin Knipstein, Browne is able to color the book in a while that heightens the feeling of the supernatural intruding on the natural. The colors of the world appear normal in spite of the chaos, but the genies themselves are little two dimensional starry nights. They don’t feel real in the world around them, which is a perfect fit for their role in the story.
Browne and Soule also find moments of depth in the levity and chaos, as characters make wishes that highlight their goodness in spite of where readers first met them in issue #1. There are some touching moments here that ground a series that by its nature is utterly absurd and in doing so, make both aspects stronger. The real test for Eight Billion Genies was always going to be if the series could execute beyond its base premise and, in issue #2, it appears up to the challenge.
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