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‘You’ve Been Cancelled’ TPB (review)

Written by Curt Pires
Art by Kevin Castaniero
Published by Mad Cave Studios

 

As someone with a strong distaste for both social media and cancel culture, Pires’ and Castaniero’s work in You’ve Been Cancelled resonated with me from page one.

In an era where social media’s grip tightens around the fabric of our social interactions and public personas, You’ve Been Cancelled emerges as a daring and thought-provoking comic book.

Crafted by the imaginative duo of writer Curt Pires and artist Kevin Castaniero, this graphic novel plunges into the turbulent waters of online culture, tackling the phenomena of cancel culture, internet fame, and the quest for redemption in the public eye.

In the near future, cancel culture means more than just losing your job…it could mean your life. The world’s premier entertainment event is CANCELLED – a live-streamed program where elite bounty hunters called cancellers kill individuals who society has voted to “cancel” following heinous actions or offenses.

Our story follows Roland Endo, the world’s #1 ranked Canceller. Because of this status, Roland lives in a constant state of paranoia with a target on his back. It’s a roller coaster ride as reflective as it is entertaining, wrapped in a vibrant package of stellar artwork and sharp writing.

A timely and timeless narrative is at the heart of You’ve Been Cancelled. Curt Pires’s storytelling is a delicate dance between satire and sincerity, managing to poke fun at the absurdities of our online lives while also offering a compassionate look at the individuals caught in the crossfire. The protagonist, Roland, is the world’s most famous canceller, as his job is to go out and assassinate a person who has been deemed so odious that the public seeks their death. Roland is “canceled” after the system is hacked as he is forced to fight for his life against the very engine that has driven both his fame and fortune.

What follows is a journey of introspection, chaos, and a quest for redemption that is as humorous as it is heart-wrenching.

Curt Pires excels in character development, turning what could easily be caricatured into fully fleshed-out individuals with flaws, hopes, and fears. The supporting cast, including Roland’s eclectic group of friends and adversaries, are equally well-drawn, each adding unique flavor to the story. The dialogue is sharp and witty, with a natural flow that captures the essence of the online mob banter and real-world implications, and the action is brilliantly bloody, violent, and over-the-top.

Castaniero’s artwork in You’ve Been Cancelled is a visual feast.  His style is a mesmerizing blend of bold lines and dynamic color palettes, bringing the digital and ever-changing world of social media to life. The character designs are expressive and diverse, capturing a wide range of emotions that mirror the tumultuous journey of the protagonists. Each panel is meticulously crafted, with attention to detail that invites readers to linger, exploring the depths of the story’s visual narrative. Castaniero’s ability to balance the vibrancy of the digital world with the more somber tones of the story’s critical moments adds depth to the reading experience

You’ve Been Cancelled dives deep into the complexities of online culture, exploring themes of identity, forgiveness, and the human cost of digital fame. It raises questions about the nature of punishment and redemption in the internet age, where a single mistake can define a person’s entire existence. The comic does not shy away from these heavy themes but handles them with a light touch, infusing humor and hope into the narrative.

The comic also offers a critical look at the phenomenon of cancel culture, providing a nuanced perspective that encourages empathy without absolving responsibility. Curt Pires and Kevin Castaniero navigate this delicate balance expertly, making You’ve Been Cancelled a thought-provoking read that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

In the broader comic book landscape, You’ve Been Cancelled stands out for its bold exploration of contemporary issues through the lens of satire. It can be likened to works such as Black Mirror for its critical take on technology and society, though it approaches its themes with a more humorous and less dystopian lens. The comic’s blend of social commentary, character-driven storytelling, and striking visuals places it among the noteworthy releases of the year, appealing to both comic book fans and casual readers alike.

You’ve Been Cancelled is a vibrant, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful take on the digital age’s challenges and absurdities. Through its compelling storytelling, rich character development, and stunning artwork, the comic book offers a unique perspective on the impact of social media on our lives and relationships.

Whether you’re an avid comic book reader or someone intrigued by the complexities of online culture, You’ve Been Cancelled is a must-read that entertains, enlightens, and provokes reflection in equal measure.

Ultimately, it’s not just a comic book; it’s a conversation starter about our times, making it a timely addition to any reader’s collection.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

 

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