Nash Huang spends her days staring at her news feed. Now her most private moments will be staring back at her.
NO 1 WITH A BULLET #1
Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artist: Jorge Corona
Cover Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jen Hickman
Publisher: Image Comics
What You Need To Know:
In the not too distant future, a social media addicted 20-something deals with a series of circumstantial suicides happening around her while also being the subject of the next internet scandal that may affect her relationships and her job.
What You’ll Find Out:
The interior cover thrusts us directly into the world that will be so vital to this story: social media. More specifically, the Direct Messages (DMs) and profile of Nash Huang, our protagonist. The sender of those DMs (or so it would appear), social handle Mancomesaround, is slumped over their keyboard, dead, gun still in hand, while police try to enter the apartment.
The scene quickly changes to a taping of Jad Davies Now, a late night TV talk show where Nash works as an assistant to the star. The anonymous audience applauds and roars with laughter while Nash demonstrates a new technology available through augmented reality contacts. The contacts make Nash believe she is seeing her boss dead before her eyes as she comments how real the knife feels in her hand even though she knows none of it is real. While the moment is played off comically, Nash’s commentary leaves an eeriness to the scene that can’t easily be forgotten.
After the filming, Nash sits in her office scrolling through her newsfeed. An intern, Rory, comes in to remind Nash that she promised to take over his duties tomorrow. She reluctantly agrees. We are also treated to an advertisement about the contacts the show is promoting, with Jad promoting a new update that allows you to “not only record, replay and relive but recreate reality.” As Nash is leaving for the day, her boss catches her and asks her one last favor: drop off his son’s history book to his ex-wife, Cynthia. Although Nash thinks Cynthia is terrifying, she reluctantly agrees.
While outside Cynthia’s home, we see Nash texting her girlfriend, who had just moved in her with, apologizing for being late for date night. Although clearly, this isn’t the first time this has happened, Nash plays it off and says she’ll be home soon. Upon dropping off the book, Cynthia asks if Jad has signed the divorce papers. She reminds Nash that it’s been three years since their separation and slams the door in her face.
Nash returns home to her girlfriend and finds that date night is half over, but she is ecstatic to have cold Chinese to eat. Nash scrolls through her newsfeed, finding comments about her appearance on the show from lewd men online, and decides that the internet is full of garbage people. Her girlfriend comments on the fact that Nash is completely ignoring the 1975 classic, Jaws. Nash quickly dismisses the thought saying movies put her to sleep, but makes a quick post about date night adorned with the hashtag #PianoSoundsDoNotASharkMake. The night illustrates the closeness the two share, and the lighthearted nature of their relationship.
The next day Nash runs the intern errands and quickly rewards herself with drinks with Rigo and Sarah, two of her friends, at a rooftop bar. Sarah quickly brings up Vanessa Green, a starlet who has been having a very public breakdown since her racism scandal. Nash is quick to dismiss Vanessa’s problems as the actress’s own responsibility. Rigo and Sarah argue on Vanessa’s behalf, stating the actress was the victim of a hacker, who leaked emails of a confidential nature. Nash is still insensitive using the excuse that hackers will always exist, and if you don’t want something to get out, don’t say it out loud, or online. The moment is quickly interrupted by a man who recognizes Nash, gets her attention and jumps from the roof with only the unsettling words “He’s coming ‘round.” Nash cooperates with police upon their arrival but is clearly shaken by the incident, reliving it in slow motion repeatedly as she tries to sleep that night.
Nash arrives at work the next day to the stares of her coworkers. She is called into a producers office where she assumes everyone has heard about her involvement in the rooftop incident the night before. However, there is some confusion on Nash’s part as they start to ask if she’s “seen it.” An attorney for the show speaks with her about the necessary damage control measures the show usually takes, asking her if she’s been online this morning.
Nash quickly takes to her phone to find that she has been the latest victim of hackers in the form of a video leak. She stares in horror at a video of herself wearing nothing but a Santa hat.
What Just Happened?
No. 1 With a Bullet finds itself in the not too distant future. In fact, it feels almost too close for comfort. Early on, it blurs the divide between the real world and the digital one. Nash, our narrator, and lens into this world acknowledges a separation exists, but that we as people feel that the two are intertwined, and the digital world almost too real. She even goes so far as to ponder why we do this to ourselves. Noting that our perception of reality is already so advanced and stimulating, but that we as hedonistic “pleasure monsters” desire more. And we use technology as a form of escapism from dull realities of life.
The escapism in which Nash believes also comes in the form of internet scandals. When Vanessa’s racism scandal is brought up in conversation, Nash is assumably like others in quickly condemning her. Sarah argues that “Twenty-nine years of being doesn’t come down to twenty-nine words written in jest,” but Nash quickly turns to victim blaming, nevermind privacy and that Vanessa took advantage of. This attitude is indicative of the obsession our culture has with celebrity scandals and gossip. We are slow to build a person up but quick to tear them down at the first opportunity.
While never suffering from being a stereotypical 20-something, Nash is still a victim of her culture in many ways. She spends too much time staring at her phone seeking validation and connection through a network that isn’t as great as it seems. Sexual harassment and bullying abound online, Nash still continues to take it all in stride, though she knows that the dwellers of the internet are “garbage people.” Nash is so addicted to the thrill of social media, the instant gratification of it, she can’t even enjoy a movie such as Jaws. If she can’t see the shark, then the suspense of it isn’t enough. She needs something more tangible than just musical notes to believe the shark is approaching. Nash is a member of “generation now,” an entire age group where a plot or synopsis of any movie can be found as quickly as it takes to type the name into Google.
Nash will need to grow a bit in order to deal with her current situation. The suicides which are happening around her don’t have a clear direction yet, but now that Nash’s situation reflects that of Vanessa Green, Nash will need to learn that victim blaming isn’t the most productive avenue. Dealing with online harassment was bad enough for Nash before such an intimate moment was downloadable for all.
But how long will Nash’s attitude make her blame herself? She’s clearly a sensitive person as seen by her reaction to witnessing the man jump from the rooftop. How long will she struggle to rectify her attitude towards online leaks with her own privacy?
Final Thought: The more you read No 1. With a Bullet, the denser it feels. There is clearly a grand scheme at play that includes social media, anonymity, internet scandal and online bullying. Nash is a character with a fully developed life and inner monologue that will make her an exciting character to explore these topics. The book feels so grounded in reality, the themes hit harder than many other Sci-Fi books on the shelf.