"Negative Space #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Ryan K. Lindsay
Illustrated by Owen Gieni
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 23rd, 2015
It seems like every other week, news hits about a corporation doing something evil to make a few bucks. At the time of this writing, car manufacturer Volkswagon is in the news for shady emissions practices and some asshole just jacked up the price for Cancer and AIDS medication by 5,000%. It's practically a foregone conclusion that big companies are out to make a dollar and if that comes at the expense of the people, it's an acceptable loss. What if despair and heartbreak weren't the byproduct of a corporation's actions, but the end goal? That's where Kindred Corp sits in Negative Space, and it's pretty heinous.
The first few pages of Negative Space #2 hit with a bit of backstory. I couldn't put my finger on what was missing from the first issue (which was still pretty stellar), but this was it. Writer Ryan K. Lindsay succinctly explains the world that this book takes place in. A strange race of undersea creatures called the Evorah has been feasting on humanity's sadness for centuries. Kindred represents the worst of mankind and the company has found a way to profit from all that doom and gloom, engineering sorrow around the world.
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All of this seems like a lot to take in. Now imagine our protagonist Guy, who just learned it all while his friend and a group of strangers dissect a hideous Evorah. Before he has time to process all of this, the place is attacked and he's thrust into the resistance movement as they take the fight to Kindred. Guy was on the verge of killing himself and now he's facing death head on as bullets are flying and people are dying. Is this what he wanted? Or does he finally have meaning in his life again?
Guy is a bit of a stick in the mud, which is unsurprising given that he's suicidal. Everyone has been in a rut at some point in their lives, so it's relatable. Balancing out his negativity is Beta, a rogue Evorah that's working with the resistance. In just a few pages, he's become one of my favorite new characters of the year. In his resting state, he's a big pink blog in a puffy orange jacket. His face, if you can call it that, kind of looks like a vagina. When danger approaches, rows of dagger-like teeth jut out from his chest and spikes shoot out from his tentacled arms. It's really the stuff of nightmares. Artist Owen Gieni did a terrific job here.
Beta's personality is strange and humorous. He's learned about our world from movies. When asked if he can drive a car, he responds, “I've seen your French Connection, yes. We'll be fine.” He doesn't always get the lines or references right though. A real standout sequence is when he cuts a man's hand off while saying that he'd love to “lend a hand.” The following panel has him holding the guy down, smothering him with his tentacles as he bleeds out from his stump. Beta turns to Guy and says “I love puns.” It's so dark and hilarious and a really nice touch for the book.
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Gieni's artwork is top notch all around. From the amazing cover with its not-so-subtle messaging to a breathtaking underwater scene with a submarine, this book is a showcase of a brilliant artist. He packs each panel with heart, alternating between making us laugh and scaring the crap out of us. There's a real sense of personality in each of the characters that's brought forth from Gieni's work. Don't get me wrong, Lindsay adds a lot to the development, but there are some things that come through without a single word.
Negative Space just opened up onto a whole new level. The first issue was just the precursor to this expansive and horrifying world. The real scary thing about it is how believable it all is. It's not that far off to imagine that we're all miserable because an evil corporation has been pulling the strings to make us that way in order to profit from our sadness by feeding it to a race of powerful undersea creatures. Well, when you say it like that, maybe it's a little out there. Still, Negative Space can scare you and then make you want to go out and hug someone. It's a weird feeling at first, but you just kind of go with it.