Genesis 1 sort of came out of nowhere from the relatively new indie comic company Z2 Comics, formerly ZIP Comix. Denoting themselves as purveyors of music and art they seem to have carved a space for themselves in the realm of graphic novels AND music. Z2 Comics have their own idea of graphic albums, usually including music to go along with the books being made.
While very niche, it’s an interesting concept that’s sure to get a ton of attention! Genesis 1 is an interesting read for both fans of Poppy and those who only have a passing knowledge of her or none at all.
It takes dives into themes of what it means to have a soul, the divisions between humanity and how they interpret symbols and even what remains after death. It has a few great ideas and plots that also unfortunately do not get resolved or touched upon after a certain point, however, leaving readers somewhat wanting.
So what’s this Poppy Graphic Novel like?
The book begins with an introduction by Poppy addressing a character on another side of the glass to her observation room. She also introduces her few friends in the cell, a plant and a mannequin. She asks if we want to be her friends as well since, even while surrounded by them, she still feels kind of alone.
The scene is drawn in such a way that everything feels cold and isolating. Minomiyabi makes the room feel sterile, uncomfortably clean and Poppy herself looks human, but also not really. Her head is sort of bulbous and with her mostly emotionless expression, she appears more unsettling than even the room does.
We are then introduced to Dr. Hampton, a psychologist who has come to examine Poppy and her AI as she is revealed to be an android. We also meet the Director of the Facility that she is being held in, a man named Skeleton.
He’s a large man and former Officer with an unnamed branch of the military. His real name is never given, but the nickname is likely because of his facial tattoo which, of course, resembles a skull.
The pair tour the facility until Dr. Hampton tells Skeleton to stop giving her the run around and asks to speak to Poppy. Reluctantly, he does so and here we see their differing dynamics when it comes to Poppy. Dr. Hampton is highly interested in picking Poppy’s brain and seeing what makes her tick, not seeing her as a person. We get hints, but it appears as though Skeleton does see Poppy as a person, correcting Hampton when she calls Poppy an “it.”
In her first interview with Poppy, Dr. Hampton is taken aback by Poppy’s behavior. Poppy is friendly and shows a talent for creating music and strange videos, much like real life. She asks Dr. Hampton if she wants to be her friend and the good doctor agrees. She then walks out of the room, far more afraid of how advanced Poppy’s AI is and goes to meet the facility’s board of directors.
Their real plan is revealed as they seem to want to use her as a tool for controlling the masses in a way or achieving some sort of global domination. Dr. Hampton’s job seems to be to prepare Poppy for her “Final Upgrade” which will seemingly allow her to become something new. It’s unknown what this entails, but Hampton is entirely on board.
Art Imitating A Future Life
The second chapter introduces us to Agent Spears, a person working for a rival organization and Rami, an anarchist with one of the many churches of Poppy that have sprung up in the world.
Poppy seems to have become something of a global superstar with a legion of fans and tons of speculation as to where she came from. (Sort of like real life) With all of this going on, some shady organizations want a piece of the pie or for Poppy to be gone altogether.
Rami himself presents heavy themes of what Poppy’s true purpose is as he speculates that her message is to eschew the morality of Conservatism and Liberal elitism. Of his few friends in the Church of Poppy, he is the most serious about his views. This annoys the heck out of them to the point of almost leaving, but Rami never stops, seeing them as weak casuals.
Agent Spears seems to represent the general public. She doesn’t understand the appeal of Poppy, seeing her music as good, but not remarkable. Under orders from her organization she is tasked with finding and either taking or eliminating Poppy.
Her investigation sends her on Rami’s path and through their chapters we play a game of cat and mouse that always sees Rami just out of her reach. The Rami/Sears chapters are drawn by Ian McGinty, probably best known for doing the art for comics of many kids series like Invader Zim and Adventure Time.
His art is perfectly cartoony and makes these chapters feel a little less serious. However, when Poppy is made to appear, her presence is a thing of nightmares and I think McGinty’s art style is perfect for it. It’s the right amount of unsettling juxtaposed against a cutesy style.
The book mostly descends into discussions of freedom vs. control and the obsession with cultural icons that regular people can sometimes face. Hampton, in the middle of her sessions with Poppy starts to feel as though what she’s been doing is wrong. She starts to feel that Poppy may actually have soul a and destroying it would be wrong.
Rami, having been mentioned in a Poppy video as her new friend, is being chased by Agent Sears and runs into various other members of the Church of Poppy for safety. They revere her at a level that not even Rami does, seeing her as a messianic figure before drinking spiked juice in an effort to become closer to her.
Rami starts to question his own actions and part of me wonders if that wasn’t some sort of reference to her music video for “X.” It’s a pretty overt reference, but it was greatly appreciated as that song was absolutely amazing.
Without spoiling the ending, it’s easy to say that the book absolutely encompasses what Poppy is all about. It’s an artsy book that has a cute but creepy appeal. Poppy is an enigma, similar to how she was when her videos began appearing on YouTube not too long ago. She only wants to be herself and Ryan Cady captures this very idea in its full essence.
Unfortunately the ideas of the church and larger landscape of her fandom go largely unanswered, but maybe if there’s a second book then it can all be expanded upon. I want to know more about the world after Poppy reemerges in it as something completely new and original unto herself.
Overall, this story succeeds with it’s amazing art and strange story about Poppy’s origin. It’s fun to read and look at, but if you want what feels like a satisfactory conclusion, you may be left wanting for more. Also, the lack of serious depth into the implications of her influence sort of leaves things pretty high and dry, but not in a way that absolutely ruins the fantastic journey.
How did we rate Genesis 1? 4 Sodas.
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