Black Mask's 'Come Into Me' drips with atmosphere, dread, and unease

Black Mask’s ‘Come Into Me’ drips with atmosphere, dread, and unease

Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Come Into Me’ #1, out this Wednesday from Black Mask Studios.

Cover to 'Come Into Me' #1. Art by Piotr Kowalski/Black Mask Studios

Cover to ‘Come Into Me’ #1. Art by Piotr Kowalski/Black Mask Studios

By Brendan Hodgdon. The simple way to describe Come Into Me, especially for a lifelong cinephile like myself, is “Imagine if David Cronenberg wrote a comic book.” That simple prompt (and everything that it conjures in one’s mind) is an effective summary of this comic and what it does well. But leaving it at that would do a disservice to the great work that the actual creators have done and how well they have told this story, specifically in the comics medium and for this cultural moment.

Writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who are deservedly getting Big Two work on the strength of books like The Dregs, craft a story here that plays directly on our culture’s increasing emphasis on sharing our lives and the increasing social connectivity that comes with that. This is very rich and timely thematic ground to mine, as previously demonstrated by books like No. 1 With A Bullet, but Thompson and Nadler elevate and distinguish their approach with added layers of body horror and corporate corruption.

The gross, organic-looking equipment used by our protagonist Sebastian, and the physical complications that arise from it, give the story a visceral, skin-crawling vibe of a very particular sort. And the inciting element of the story— a woman named Becky approaches Sebastian and convinces him that this invention meant for medical use would be very desirable as a social entertainment experience— speaks directly to the standard life cycle of every new social media invention, and how pure human connection slowly drowns under a desire/need for profit. All of this flows naturally as the plot progresses, and credit is due to Thompson and Nadler that they were able to seamlessly integrate so many elements into the first issue of a series like this.

Variant cover to 'Come Into Me' #1. Art by Devmalya Pramanik/Black Mask Studios

Variant cover to ‘Come Into Me’ #1. Art by Devmalya Pramanik/Black Mask Studios

As solid as Come Into Me is on a story level, it’s the art of Piotr Kowalski that really sells its unsettling tone. Kowalski’s art does a great job of mixing the banal and the fantastical here; even when he’s simply capturing the Toronto skyline or a clinic waiting room, he imbues it with a sense of unease that allows it to blend smoothly with the story’s more horrific elements. When Kowalski does lean into the unnatural, he really nails it: The double-page spread showing Sebastian merging consciousness with Becky is a beautiful collage that leaves an uncomfortable pit in one’s stomach, and the scenes around it are peppered with individual panels of clinical gore and blurred faces that help inform the unnatural sensibility of the whole story.

On top of that, Kowalski also nails the emotions of the story when they appear, particularly in the quick flashback that gives us a glimpse into Sebastian’s motivations and his moments of quiet panic during a demonstration of his technology. These more subtle details help draw us into the plot on a personal level, which in turn emphasizes the pervasive discomfort of Sebastian’s environment.

The issue does suffer from some missteps that are common in a new #1. Becky isn’t given much background or context for her actions, and while that could still be explored in future installments it does leave this issue feeling a bit lopsided. And the rules of the central conceit are a bit murky as well, leaving us wondering how this whole enterprise even works. Again, these are imperfections that could easily be solved (or at least contextualized) in future issues. In the meantime the clear-cut theme and tone do more than enough to keep one invested in what will come next.

The collective work of this creative team results in an incredibly immersive piece of storytelling, one that drips with atmosphere, dread, and unease. The undeniable effectiveness of this is what makes Come Into Me #1 an issue worth checking out, and what will keep me coming back for more in the future.

Black Mask Studios/$3.99

Written by Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler.

Art by Piotr Kowalski.

Colors by Niko Guardia.

Letters by Ryan Ferrier.

8 out of 10

‘Come Into Me’ #1 hits stores March 14.

Check out this killer six-page preview of ‘Come Into Me’ #1, courtesy of Black Mask Studios!