By: Brian K. Vaughan (story), Marcos Martin (art), Muntsa Vicente (colors)

The Story: It’s about time we return to a world with Angry Birds.

The Review: If nothing else, third-world countries prove that humans are an adaptable lot; no matter how awful or bizarre our circumstances, we can not only get used to them, we’ll forget about living any other way. I’m no sociological expert, but I think this has as much to do with our desire to not rock the boat as our resilience. Order, even one maintained by corruption, force, or deception, is often more attractive to us than chaos.

That’s the main struggle DeGuerre has in pushing his agenda. Here he is, insisting that things are all wrong without Internet, yet he can’t explain why, nor why things would be better if Internet came back, except in generalities that sound like ideals the original internet evangelists might have had. “[It] will bring great minds together to topple dictatorships and liberate entire populations,” he claims.

Melanie, ever the skeptic, points out, “You don’t think anyone will ever abuse the peepholes you just drilled into everybody’s private lives? Yeah, you’re a real student of history.” DeGuerre’s only response basically translates to, “Why, you little–!”

To be fair, DeGuerre does mention “[t]he rising tides, the famine, the chaos,” all happening outside the WonderWall. He accuses the country of using their masks to blind themselves from these problems, implying that Internet will somehow force people to face them. But this is the same man who owns TeeVee, which seems just as ubiquitous in this world now as Internet used to be. Why he can’t use TeeVee to the same purpose is a mystery he never clears up.

Perhaps if Vaughan fleshes out this journalistic authority running the country, we’ll get a better sense of Private Eye‘s philosophical tension. Strunk, still alive after his encounter with DeGuerre’s twin thugs, is dismayed upon discovering that his story on Melanie, P.I., etc., has been passed off to “the feds,” who manifest as the Citizen National News—”C.N.N.” for short. C.N.N. is represented by Special Anchor Cindy Bly, who looks like your typical blonde newscaster in heels, but who can take a bullet to the bosom and still mete out justice with a news camera. It’s not clear that she’s out to cover anything up from the public, which is the only way DeGuerre’s mission garners any sympathy.

Meanwhile, Patrick and Raveena continue to take digs at the vacuousness of Internet culture, making it even harder to appreciate the desire to bring it back. “I’ll never understand how these things made more sense than books to people,” Raveena says in disgust while they wait for the iPad to boot. When it finally does, she asks if there’s anything useful on it, to which Patrick replies ambivalently, “All I see are a dozen different versions of something called Angry Birds.”

With the two of them catching up to DeGuerre and ready to take him on, we seem to be coming to the series’ close, which is surprising, considering how little we still know of its world. And it’s such an interesting world—L.A.X. shut down “after the ’43 quake”? More, please!—that it’d be a pity if we departed from it so soon.

Also, it’d be a pity not to have an excuse to enjoy Martin’s breathtaking sets, which vary between the electric urban metropolis of L.A. (so vibrantly colored by Muntsa) and the star and moonlit sea crashing against the enormous WonderWall, its massive lamps and their generator-columns looking so futuristic and grounded at the same time. We need artists like Martin to keep demonstrating the potential of landscape comics, because the big publishers certainly aren’t doing it.

Conclusion: A rock-solid issue that seems uncertain on how to communicate its overarching ideas.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – If history needs a single line exemplifying Vaughan’s humor, I vote for Patrick’s granddad pleading, “I’m too young to die.”