Cover to ‘Collapser’ #1. Art: Ilias Kyriazis/DC’s Young Animal/DC

by Sara Mitchell. Liam James. Just another guy doing his best, trying to get by in this modern world. He’s busting his ass. He’s balancing his side hustle at a demanding nursing home during the day with his passion for music as a DJ at night, all while struggling to hold up his end of a relationship with the girl who’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. To make matters worse, a messenger showed up at his doorstep this morning with the news that his estranged mother has passed away, and that she’s left for him a small box in her will. 

Sure, he’s a bit of an emotional lockbox, but really, there’s actually a gaping black hole in that box getting ready to set up shop in his chest. 

Liam James is slightly paranoid, to put it gently. He’s plagued with the terror that robbers will break into his apartment, but even more plagued with the terror that robbers might knock at the front door first. He’s constantly on guard, but that’s really not too surprising, given his lifestyle. His current work/life balance is anything but balanced, he has a tendency to smoke two packs a day, and he sees death and misery everyday as a nursing home attendant. I’d say it’s safe to assume that Liam has terrible blood pressure, is sleep-deprived and completely on edge. 

His job isn’t just demanding. It’s disgusting, and it’s heartbreaking. Moments after he receives news of his mother’s death along with the mystery box, he goes straight to work, where his attention is in shambles. The panels jump from thought to thought, image to image, but artist Ilias Kyriazis and letterer Simon Bowland are able to present it with control amid the chaos. This is what distraction feels like. Your vision changes. You’re in two places at once. You hear yourself and all of your other selves within you just as loudly as any person standing right next to you, if not louder. If only A Walk to Remember’s Mandy Moore knew all she needed in order to be in two places at once was intense anxiety, Shane West could have saved a lot of money on gas. (Sick reference, I know.) The overlap from panel to panel as Liam goes through his day, trying to manage his attention, is orchestrated perfectly. This one sequence, where he is trying to get through a single day’s work, reminds me why comics are so compelling. The artists have seamlessly woven Liam’s inner and outer worlds into a single space.

Writers Mikey Way and Shaun Simon deliver a thrilling adventure into Liam’s world. It’s rare in stories to truly be along for the same ride as a character, but as I read through Collapser, I felt what Liam felt, I was shocked by what shocked Liam. It is such a ride to read this book. Collapser is clearly directed by a team with a sturdy love of comics. It feels thoroughly classic and entirely modern all at the same time, with special thanks to colorist Cris Peter. The colors are saturated and intense when Liam’s life is charged, but just slightly less alive when he’s on his grind. The lighting is thoughtful and dramatic without being overly sensational. The work is subtle and emotionally subversive. 

Okay, okay, by now you’re probably thinking—but what about the literal black hole in his chest? While Collapser might appear to be a classic story of greatness being thrust upon the protagonist out of nowhere, there is another story brewing deeper down, about an inherited darkness that Liam will have to come to terms with. Greatness didn’t land in his lap because he’s an unassuming-guy-without-any-control trope; something great and powerful landed in his lap because his mother once had that same power, too. Unless, of course, this is a curse. But that’s what we’re here to find out.

DC’s Young Animal / DC / $3.99

Written by Mikey Way and Shaun Simon.

Lines by Ilias Kyriazis.

Colors by Cris Peter.

Letters by Simon Bowland.

7.5 out of 10

Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Collapser’ #1, courtesy of DC’s Young Animal and DC!

Variant cover by Nick Derington.