Review: Polarity #2

The last review we posted for this series was a group review, but this time around not enough of us got our hands on the book in time to organize and post our thoughts. That means the one person that didn’t really care for the first issue is going to be one to review it. Much like with Thanos Rising, I can see all of the elements in play, but I’m not enjoying it like everyone else seems to be. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s too self-aware or that Bemis is continuing his trend of telling off posers while adding nothing else to the genre of superheroes, but whatever it is… this book rubs me the wrong way.

While I do appreciate the fact that he’s including his own illness in the comic which is something that I can’t recall ever being done before, it’s the romanticized haze that it’s told through that bothers me. At some points I don’t know if the story is even trying to take itself seriously because I most certainly am not.

In the beginning of the issue, Max Tim visits his psychiatrist after killing the dude with a head-butt in the last issue (probably one of the few scenes I enjoyed). He pukes on the good doctor and soon begins a ridiculous conversation in which his Doc tells him that everything that’s happening is real and that he does have powers and that’s why he and whatever company he works for… are watching him. There’s more puke and a shirtless conversation and it all ends with the Doc giving him pink pills that will balance him out instantly and the apparent mention that if Tim takes drugs it will take the effects of the pills off instantly. I re-read this scene three times trying to find where that was said or eluded, but without making a huge leap in reverse logic I couldn’t find it. After Tim cleans up he ends up at a shitty dinner party with his shitty girlfriend where this comes into play. Tim says, “According to Mays, that’s all I’ll need to lose it” referring to taking nose candy in order to go back to having powers.  Details like this bother me and I know that I’m being nit-picky, but even on my first go through of that scene I had nothing else to do but pay close attention to the dialog. Seems like an easy fix just go back and add a line, but I’ll get to editing later.

Tim goes off his meds when he wants to and begins acting like an asshole. There really is no other word for a person that spends all their time calling people out on their own insecurities that that hide in public. At the dinner party he reads everyone’s minds and reveals them for the posers they are. He beats up some guys that mug him often, which is fine because they actually were shit heads and he manages not to kill any of them. He then decides to visit his old high school where he happens upon a football initiation involving spanking the nerdy kid in the locker room. He decides to spank the jock kid instead and give the nerd advice like, “don’t grow up to be a bitter music critic.”

There’s more, but really it’s more of the same. Tim’s idea of being a hero is to call people out on their lies and secrets, but in the most degrading way possible while he himself isn’t truthful. Literally the only time the writing shines is when Tim thinks about and deals with the man he killed, which is three times throughout the issue. His feelings towards it are very real, but outside of those scenes it’s as if it never happened. He makes fun of the dinner party because they’re arguing about which Bob Dylan record is the best (trick question there aren’t any), but the way he makes up for killing the man is telling everyone at a concert that the performing artist wears blood diamonds on her jacket while pretending to be against conflicts in Africa.

The entire thing reads like amateur hour because it’s clear that Bemis is pulling a ton of examples from his real life. Granted the average comic book reader isn’t going to know that if they’re unfamiliar with his music, but comic book readers aren’t the only people buying this. It’s an adolescent fantasy at best as Tim gets “revenge” on the jocks, who aren’t even the ones that tormented him. If you replaced the love interest with a sexy babe that loved having sex and this would be just about every nerd’s fantasy in high school. The power to read minds, super speed and strength? Check. Getting even with people that belittled you? Check. Getting the girl of your dreams? Check. Add in rad fucking cars and this may as well be a poor man’s John Hughes movie.

There seems to be a lack of editing to this series, almost as if Boom didn’t want to lose the property so they agreed to let Bemis do whatever. If you take off the blinders for a minute an actually analyze the story progression (which will require you to ignore all the quips and jokes there to distract you) you’ll be able to tell that the plot and pacing are terrible. Man sees shrink, shrink affirms powers, man goes back to normal life, man becomes asshole, man stops being an asshole for a girl, man becomes a secret asshole. Does that sound like a book you want to read? No, it sounds like your life without the superpowers.

The art is good for the most part. I didn’t like the fake art that was just a rehash of the cover of the first issue and the cartoon-esc clip art that was used for what people were thinking. Also, who the hell thinks about all their dirty secrets all of the time while sitting with their friends at a dinner party? Serial killers probably.

Initially I was beyond excited for this book and definitely over-hyped the first issue for myself, but I learned from that and came into this issue with lower expectations. For the third issue, I don’t know how much lower my expectations can go. You’ve probably already blindly bought this comic and if you didn’t and were thinking about it, I have a logic chart that we can follow. Do you like Say Anything/Max Bemis? If yes then go ahead and buy since you probably already did. If you’ve never heard of him or the band, then give it a pass. Also billing this as a new take on the superhero genre is like billing Archie as a fresh take on the life of a teenager.

Score: 2/5

Writer: Max Bemis

Artist: Jorge Coelho

Publisher: Boom Studios

Price: $3.99

Release Date: 5/1/13