Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review - Polarity #1

Artists have an uncanny knack for finding inspiration to do phenomenal things. If they didn't have that ability, they wouldn't really be artists. Sometimes though, that inspiration comes from deep within; an individual coming to grips with something that makes them tick. The "inspiration process" isn't always the cleanest, as evidenced in Polarity #1 from BOOM! Studios.

The first issue is written by Max Bemis, with art by Jorge Coelho, colors by Felipe Sobreiro and Steve Wands.

Timothy Woods is a bipolar artist stuck in Brooklyn, the world of hipsters, meaningless sex and vain art. What got him to that point was a near fatal car accident suffered as a result of a psychotic break from a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. The diagnosis flings Timothy on manic highs and depressed lows, both of which he draws on to create art that has become all the rage in the Brooklyn hipster scene. It's when he's off his treatment plan that he finds the most adventure, including some events that may actually be happening (and not a delusion of grandeur).

First and foremost, Bemis has penned something quite intriguing with Polarity #1. He pretty accurately conveys the highs and lows of Bipolar Disorder, right down to a feeling of invincibility at times. Timothy relies on his diagnosis to reach creative pinnacles, but whether or not he's actually any good is still left unclear. His work taps into a hidden aspect of psyche and the accolades lauded on him by others is the second thing about the book.

By presenting Timothy as an artist drawing on Bipolar Disorder, he aslo manages to skewer societal regards as well. The environment Timothy inhabits is presented as phony and erudite, with his fellow "artists" oohing and aahing over all his works. They're not blind to the fact that he finds the most inspiration when he's at the mercy of his diagnosis, but they're also content with the fact that he's suffering to create. It's a heady take on what people accept in order to be part of the in crowd.

Coelho's art is aptly laid out. When Timothy has everything together, the panels and illustrations are clean and well-defined. When he start to stray from treatment, pages become more disheveled and chaotic. It's a great visual representation of his descent into a world rife with symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. There's also a great full-page panel representing the duality Timothy feels of being both an alien and a citizen of the new world his art has invited him to.

As the first of four issues, Polarity #1 is an interesting start. It sets the foundation for a series that will alternate between reality and illusion, with the reader often questioning the surreality of it all. Timothy learns that breaking from treatment comes with its own perils (beyond just being hit by cars) and how he reconciles events real and imagined will be a pensive journey for the reader.

Polarity #1 is in stores April 3 with interiors below.


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