Okay so this week’s read is a recent one you’ve probably never heard of called “Username: Evie”, but you probably know the author and his team. From what I know, the author of this is a new one. His name’s Joe Sugg, though most of you better know him as the British Youtube personality named ‘ThatcherJoe’.
And with him to help make this comic come to life are the ‘Sugg Squad’, consisting of Amrit Birdi, Matt Whyman, Joaquin Pereyra, and Mindy Lopkin. Looking these guys up as well as Joe Sugg, I never would’ve guessed right away he wrote comics, especially with the art style involved. . And after finding this at the local book store, I decided to give it a quick read and honestly?
Not good, not bad. It is just okay.
So what’s the story? Evie is a young teenage girl who is the high school outcast, spending all day watching others have fun and go to parties she’s never invited to. After her widowed but technologically brilliant father passes away, she’s forced to move in with her mean-spirited cousin Mallory. More alone than ever, Evie is shocked to discover her father left her something called ‘E.SCAPE’.
What is ‘E.SCAPE’? It is a virtual reality program Evie’s father built for her to escape and be herself. After travelling there via a “Tron” rip-off, Evie meets Unity, an androgynous AI that acts as a liaison, who explains to her that the non-playable characters that live in E.SCAPE are affected by the user’s emotions and thoughts. Excited and wanting to come out of her shell, Evie begins to explore this new world and be free from the burdens of the real world.
However, her joy is short-lived when it is discovered Mallory has accidentally logged into E.SCAPE as well, who is ignorant to how the world works and begins to twist the utopia into an aggressive world of anarchy that Evie must try to stop before the overload of chaos causes E.SCAPE to crash.
Okay going in the plot seems like it has been done before. “Tron”, “The Matrix”, “Sword Art Online”, “Ghost in the Shell” and a bajillion other examples of media have done the whole ‘online utopia is a dystopia’ trope since the dawn of science fiction. It’s been done and isn’t that interesting. However, to this comic’s credit, the idea of a virtual reality that’s shaped by your emotional outlook is a good addition. The idea of being in a reality where the NPC’s personalities are affected by your own is a nice twist, and offers some good commentary how a depressed or happy-go-lucky student can impact other people around them.
It also helps that I believe Evie is a decent character, and has a good heart while transforming from meekly shy into a confident young woman. I won’t dare tell how she cools off when she’s back home, because honestly it’s pretty funny XD.
Regardless, I wish the rest could be said for the rest of the characters. Mallory I’m sad to say isn’t that interesting. We know she’s the stereotypical bitchy high school girl who has a lost moral compass, but she’s only one noted. When everything is said and done, the comic feels less like a coherent story and more like a summary for a coherent story. We introduce a character, explain their quirky personality, she goes to a strange world, goes through some obstacles with quick moments of emotional appeal, learns a lesson, the end.
Aside from Evie, the only other character who got my attention was Unity, a genderless being that is surprisingly welcoming and friendly while keeping this sense of wisdom and calm. He/She may be a side character, but I wish Joe Sugg gave more focus on him/her. You just feel sorry for when you see how torn up Unity is with the chaos happening in E.SCAPE.
I know I’m gonna get hate mail for not loving this comic, but everyone who has reviewed this keeps saying Joe Sugg and his Squad are fantastic writers and artists who have made a masterpiece. Maybe it’s because I’m not a dedicated follower that I’m not biased into thinking everything he does is absolutely perfect.
I’m not saying this is horrible or that Joe Sugg wrote something bad. I’m saying I wanted more creativity regarding the characters and story. We’ve seen this type of thing in “Tron”, we’ve seen this type of rushed story, and it makes me sad that there’s not more substance other than the landscape designs and a couple of the side characters.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the best part of this comic: the art. It has beautiful imagery and colorfully potent landscapes. I am being deadly serious; the artwork is just gorgeous! At times a character in the background or foreground has a sloppy design or messy outline but it is just unbelievable, wonderfully integrating blurred line work and colored hues into a great excuse to be creative. It’s like an endless world of beautiful imagination.
Overall, “Username: Evie” is okay. If you’re a sucker for comics with brilliant art and want to read a comic by a genuinely funny and great YouTuber, give this a quick glance. Let it take you away to E.SCAPE and find yourself in a brave new world.
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