Review: Negative Space #1

Negative Space is Cabin in the Woods but with the horror movie clichés swapped out for some of the best art I've seen from a comic this year; also, with a dash of debilitating sadness. Lindsay has done something very clever with this one.  The story hooks you with a very simple premise: a miserable writer who has writer's block for his own suicide note.  It's one of those tragically funny situations that's hard to look away from.  What's more impressive is that this story is delicate with the concept of suicide and depression without putting on kid's gloves.  Lindsay reveals to us a nugget of humor in Guy's situation, but spends the rest of the comic making us feel for Guy.  The real triumph is that despite seeing just how shitty things are for this dude, I cannot help but root for him to find hope somewhere.

There’s so much more going on than the hook, and it's quite the mix of elements.  The team at Kindred Tower injects the sci-fi element into the plot, without giving too much away just yet about their purpose.  The great success here is that this foreign story element which could serve to take away from or clash with Guy's very human story is an element which actually adds to our engagement with Guy.  Yes, Guy has his own problems with depression; but, we root for him even more because of the manipulative bastards at the tower.  Even though it is implied several times that his death might be necessary for the good of many, Lindsay casts aside the utilitarian in us all by imbuing the reader with an unshakable sense of the value of Guy's life.  This largely because it is not just a monster story: it's a love story.

Negative-Space-#1The script is able to achieve these effects at such heights because of Gieni's art.  I want to go on record now and say that I hope Negative Space is not the last time that this writer and artist pair up.  Everything that is great about the writing is accentuated by the art.  Rarely do a writer and artist come together to present such a singular vision.  Guy's posture and his frowns practically reach out and touch the reader to deliver pity and empathy, and his sadness bleeds into the color work on every page.  Gieni's characters are emotive and yet the scenes themselves often convey just as much of what the reader should be feeling as any particular character might convey.

Even the big, syrupy, sort of bad-acid-trip feel that makes up large swaths of the comic is penetrated by thoughtful little artistic touches that create their own little threads.  Where the story is good at injecting quick little glimpses of hope, so too is Gieni good at presenting singular images which tug at a particular emotion at a particular time.  Even more impressive is his ability to call back to these images in order to signal the same emotion, or even the emotion’s complete opposite.  I don’t want to be too specific because it’s not the kind of thing that deserves to be given away: just see if you can figure out what the hell I’m blabbing about.

Ultimately this sad tale becomes a love story wrapped in a monster story: a dangerous liaison that lives up to its name, surely.  There is something really triumphant about Negative Space #1 and its ability to mix together so many genres without stepping away from such a simple and sad story.  That all of this was achieved within a first issue borders on upsettingly fantastic.

Score: 5/5

Negative Space #1 Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay Artist: Owen Gieni Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/8/15 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital