"Diskordia: Volume 1 – Feels Like Falling" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Originally published as Diskordia #1 - #9
2015, 356 Pages
Jackal Black was a misfit. He didn't fit in with any particular group in school. No one understood him. He self-medicated to keep his sanity – or insanity – in check. He didn't seem to want to live in the first place. That was before he took a dive through a toilet and ended up in a strange new world filled with increasingly bizarre creatures. Now he's dealing with a naked girl with a squid on her head, a skeleton monster with a hunger for bones, and a talking top hat that would make the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter weep like a little girl. Welcome to Diskordia.
Originally published through the comiXology Submit program, Diskordia is a pretty surreal story. At first, it's difficult to understand if what Jackal Black is seeing is real or if it's all in his head. Is he just having these visions as part of an actual mental illness? He's not a likeable character, especially at the onset of the book. He comes across as pompous, constantly looking down at everyone around him because they just don't understand or appreciate him, when on the inside, he's kind of an asshole. By the time you get some backstory to him deep into the comic, it's past the point where it matters.
Fortunately, while he's the main character, his appearances can be rather spotty. The real star of the show is Squidgirl. She's a plucky, kick-ass chick who fears nothing and does not care what anyone thinks. She spends the bulk of the book wearing nothing but a squid on her head, but her nudity isn't gratuitous or obscene. It becomes just another part of her character. When she finally does get some clothes, it almost looks strange on her.
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Creator Rivenis moves a number of large, seemingly unrelated plot points around, each having to do with a grand ideas such as Jackal Black's trip to this strange world or the existence of a King of Nightmares. He then slowly begins to piece them together over the nine chapters collected in this first volume. It's unclear at first how everything links up and then all of a sudden those separate threads click and you get a better idea of the bigger picture.
In reading Diskordia, you can actually see Rivenis improve as a writer and artist. The first couple chapters can be a little rocky, especially the second one that relies heavily on prose to describe the feelings of the character. There is nothing in that text that couldn't have been shown in images...you know...like a comic does. He seems to get more comfortable with the medium as the book goes on.
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The artwork is what really stands out in Diskordia. It's unlike anything I've seen before. Rivenis has created some pretty amazing and terrifying images here, ranging from a mall where people are slowly disintegrating to a man in leather garb with a giant, disfigured mouth for a face. This is the kind of comic that you could flip through without a single piece of dialogue or narration and enjoy based on the sights alone.
I won't pretend to understand every aspect of Diskordia. There were a number of plot threads that seemed to be left dangling or just came out of nowhere by the end of the book. As there are already a few other issues out, I'm assuming those get picked up for future stories. This is a comic that will sit with you for a little while. You'll roll it around in your head, wondering what was real and what was make believe. It's an impressive debut.