Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Cover Artists: Fernando Blanco; Dani; David Romero; Justine Frany; Werther Dell’Edera
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: May 31, 2023
After the naked, tattooed blonde shot the Sheriff (and yes, she also shot some Deputies), she killed Gibson Lane, who knifed sixty people to death. The surviving police hold Ellison–who witnessed the woman’s assault—in custody. Fausta—his podcast producer, and perhaps more–investigates his late brother Gibson’s home. As she explores each dark room, talking via cell phone to their boss, the nude blonde follows Fausta, knife in hand. Why is the woman there? What fate awaits Fausta? Let’s climb onto W0rldtr33 #2 and learn more!
Silk and Nicky arrive at the police station. The FBI agents question Ellison, but he’s struggling to keep his head above water. Overwhelmed by the tsunami his brother’s killings unleashed, he can barely comprehend what’s happening, let alone help Silk capture the naked woman she pursued for months. Back at her brother’s house, the woman in question—seemingly called PH34R—observes Fausta. The podcast producer braves blood splatter on doors and a disturbing odor. Her search leads her to Gibson’s bedroom.
Gabriel, the technology wizard who created the Dark Web program that prompted Gibson’s murder spree, orchestrates the defense against this potentially world-ending threat. He reunites the members of the original development team in W0rldtr33 #2. Although twenty years have passed, most seem scarred by the experience. His plan to protect our world also includes Ellison, but to what extent remains unclear.
Outside the police station, Silk and Nicky wait among the news crews and vehicles. They question Ellison in an interrogation room enlivened only by reflections in the two-way mirror. At Gibson’s home, Fausta gazes at family portraits in the living room. A copy of Robert Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers—set near the computer from which he accessed the Undernet or W0rldtr33—makes us ponder the new world he and the nude woman are building. The symbol of the world tree at the end of the issue suggests Yggdrasil, the tree upon which Odin died. Yet the icon for the Undernet on Gibson’s computer brings to mind a prickly cactus: a reference closer to the Christian crown of thorns. And what of the naked woman who smiles while killing? Could the tattoo rising from her chest and covering her shoulders suggest a Caduceus? Show me more, Fernando Blanco!
From the greens and blues of Liam’s reunion with Yoshi at the Holiday Inn that Gabriel rented to the beiges and tans in Gibson’s unlit home, and to the dark blue that envelops Darren and Amanda as they follow Gabriel’s instructions, limited color schemes dominate W0rldtr33 #2. Jordie Bellaire’s yellows, oranges, and grays liken the area outside the police station to the otherworld Dom and Birdie explore in Phantom Road. (Say, who colored that series?) But to paraphrase Prince and Sinéad O’Connor, nothing compares to the wild, intense coloring of the Undernet. Can anyone withstand its Medusa-like glare?
Aside from Fausta, Ellison, and Amanda’s microscopic murmurs (not whispers), W0rldtr33 #2‘s uppercase letters in white dialogue balloons are easy to read and follow. Large white letters announce scene changes. Aditya Bidikar’s sound effects help us hear Fausta sniff the fetid air in Gibson’s living room and snap photos of his bedroom with her cell phone. Block letters accompany a computer accessing the Undernet, and cursive letters suggest the screaming that fills the air.
While healthy societies can withstand gradual change, rapid transformation tears apart the social fabric that clothes our collective lives. W0rldtr33 #2 explores the duality of ordinary humans—love versus a desire for power and wealth, how service becomes corrupted, and how what we create can destroy us. More importantly, it questions how we respond to threats. What price do we pay for the common good, and do the ends ever justify the means?