"Negative Space #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Ryan K. Lindsay
Illustrated by Owen Gieni
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 13th, 2016
Guy was about to kill himself. He was ready to pull the trigger, but he got stuck. He got writer's block on his suicide note. Since then, his life has turned upside down. He's learned of the existence of an ancient race of creatures called the Evorah that feeds off of humanity's depression, and the evil mega-corporation Kindred that works to keep people in the dumps to profit off of the transaction. He's taken a fight directly to the Evorah's undersea headquarters and now stands ready to take down Kindred once and for all...but at what cost? His actions have caused those monsters to come up from the depths to feed on mankind directly. Thousands will die unless he does something about it. This is where the magic happens.
Negative Space's final issue opens in the climax of an action movie filled with alien beasts. The very first page showcases artist Owen Gieni's talents as these mutant squid-like creatures swim up directly at the reader. Rows upon rows of teeth are barred. Sharp talons are unsheathed. It's safe to say I'm in no rush to go back in the water after seeing that. They're like a cross between a jellyfish and a set of Ginsu knives...with teeth.
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Meanwhile, at Kindred Corp, bodies are stacked all over. Guy has turned his depressive powers on the soldiers within the organization, overwhelming them with emotion and causing them to kill themselves. It's a pretty gruesome scene. I don't know which shot is more chilling: The office with several workers hanging from the ceiling, strung up by the cords from their computer keyboards, or the pile of bodies in front of the building from folks that leaped to their deaths.
These were the bad guys though, so I don't feel too bad. It's what happens next that's both heartbreaking and inspiring. Guy is given a choice with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. He has the ability to save everyone, but at a tremendous cost. It's a total “Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” moment and it's brilliant. This is what makes a hero. Writer Ryan K. Lindsay is no stranger to this type of character development, as he did it expertly with his previous work, Headspace. He puts these people in such dire positions where they're forced to make a decision that defines who they are. It's what sets them apart from your average joes.
The big theme within Negative Space has to do with emotional baggage. There's a great thread of positivity in here. That sounds cheesy, but hear me out. We've all had horrible shit happen to us in some shape or form. Maybe you've lost a loved one or got laid off or any of a million other things that could cause you to curl up in a little ball and just give up. You are not defined by the bad things that have happened in your life. Guy has had a rough go of it, but he was able to take all those bad things, including his father's suicide, and turn them into something positive. That's why he, and he alone, is capable of stopping the Evorah and how he's able to push down all that fear, doubt, and anxiety and step up to become the hero.
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That doesn't mean that Negative Space has a happy ending. It's bittersweet, which is rather fitting given Guy's journey. At the bare minimum, it makes you take another look around and count your blessings. It's guaranteed that your life is not nearly as rough as this.
Amidst all the terror of the Evorah tearing through a city to get at the fleshy parts of people, there's this two-page scene that hits you right in the feels. As you're waiting to find out what's going to happen at Kindred Corp, a man is frozen in fear with one of these monsters ready to tear into his car and feed on him and his infant son. He faces death head on as talons pierce his car windows. Tears well up in his eyes and he turns to his boy to shield him from this horror for even just a few moments. He tells the kid he loves him. Then...oh, I'm not telling you what happens next. Pick up the book.
Negative Space hits on all marks. It's a powerful comic with a message, but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. In lesser hands, this would have turned into a Monsters Inc ripoff where the Evorah found they can feed off of happiness better than depression. Instead, it became so much more. This cements Ryan K. Lindsay as an expert storyteller capable of truly incredible character work. They feel like real people and that's the greatest compliment you can give to someone that made all these characters up. Owen Gieni has crafted some of the most terrifying monsters seen on the stands today, made even scarier by the fact that they rarely speak. They come out of the water in silence and just start killing. The scenes with the humans are far more chilling though. Seriously, go check out that panel with the keyboards. I would not be surprised if that's stolen for a horror movie in the next couple years.
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