What if that empty feeling you have inside was a literal black hole? That’s the premise of Collapser #1, a new comic from writers Mikey Way and Shaun Simon, artist Ilias Kyriazis, and colorist Cris Peter. The book starts with a cosmic cold open before spending most of the issue in slice of life mode. It shows the life of Liam James. James works at an old folks’ home during the day. At night, he’s a DJ with a penchant for songs by Mancunian musicians like Morrissey and The Chemical Brothers. He’s also insecure and freaks out a lot. This is known thanks to Way and Simon’s internal captions. It intensifies as the book gets weirder ramping up to a fantastic final page.
Collapser #1 succeeds as a first issue because it focuses on establishing Liam as a protagonist and keeps the space stuff on the backburner for the most part. After the rush of the first few pages, Way, Simon, and Kyriazis slowly introduce more hazy cosmic jive into the story when it needs mystery or tension. Kyriazis and Peter equally excel at drawing the effects of the black hole and Liam going through his daily life. A nine-panel grid to shows the mundane nature of his day job although Liam genuinely cares for one of his patients, Mr. Edgar, and is sad that they don’t get to play chess together.
However, Collapser #1 has plenty of flash too. Peter adds some gorgeous pinks and Ben-Day dot effects when Liam kisses and interacts with his girlfriend. Her color palette intensifies when Liam’s DJ set begins. Way and Simon’s musical background shine through in this sequence. Liam is totally in his element and it’s my favorite sequence of the comic. There are no thought bubbles; just him, his headphones, his records, and a crowd that is dancing, drinking, and making out into the night.
Of course, it all goes wrong because of the whole blackhole thing. Ilias Kyriazis’ art style flips from Phonogram to a fucked-up take on Silver Surfer almost instantaneously. Time and space lose their meaning, and Liam witnesses all his worldly possessions becoming sucked away. He’s become part of something bigger. Way, Simon, and Kyriazis show this in a jarring way with powerful, horror-tinged imagery as Liam doesn’t recognize the world around him any more. However, the weirdness works on a narrative level because Way, Simon, and Kyriazis do a good job of introducing Liam and his everyday life as well as his passions and flaws.
Collapser #1 is characterization meets strong visuals and colors with a side dish of trippy worldbuilding to literally suck you into the story. Mikey Way and Shaun Simon make Liam a little bit of an asshole; he’s not the greatest towards his girlfriend and is a little insensitive at times. However, Liam’s passion for music and fear of failure are all too relatable. He makes a great POV character for this wild space odyssey of which Collapser #1 is a solid first few steps.
Story: Mikey Way, Shaun Simon Art: Ilias Kyriazis
Colors: Cris Peter Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review