Memetic by James Tynion IV, Eryk Donovan, and Adam Guzowski. Boom Studios, 2015. 978160886743.
Everyone loves the new meme, a sloth giving the thumbs up on a swirly red and blue background. It isn’t just cute, it gives people a feeling of well-being, even euphoria. It gets passed around so much that people’s social media feeds are just the Good Times Sloth over and over. College student Aaron doesn’t get it, probably because he can’t see colors, and everyone’s sudden obsession starts to creep him out. He texts his boyfriend not to look at it, even though they had a terrible argument the night before. That evening, one of Aaron’s friends starts bleeding from the eyes, screaming, and attacking everyone around him. The syndrome spreads, starting exactly twelve hours after exposure to the sloth image. Aaron goes in search of his boyfriend. Meanwhile an ex-Pentagon official with macular degeneration and a researcher who predicted weaponized memes try to find the image’s origins as the world descends into chaos.
The story feels like a combination of a Twilight Zone episode and an apocalyptic action movie. It incorporates the best and worst things about social media into the spread of the syndrome, and it reminded me of the end of the television series Dollhouse in that it’s more of a horror story than a cautionary tale.