Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review - The Shrinking Man #1 (@IDWPublishing)


"Hey Marty! Did you see that weird spray?"

Coming to terms with any serious illness is always devastating, for both the afflicted and their loved ones. Generally, there's at least some treatment that can be undertaken that will alleviate--if not cure--the condition. There are some conditions though that know no cure or treatment and are horrible to endure. One of those conditions is shrinking, as in The Shrinking Man #1 from IDW Comics. The issue is adapted by Ted Adams, illustrated by Mark Torres, colored by Tomi Varga and lettered by Robbie Robbins.

Scott Carey, reducing 1/7″ per day, faces tension big and small as his body continues to shrink away. His everyday existence as a husband and father is thrown into chaos as he struggles with not just shrinking smaller and smaller, but with the possibility that he may disappear all together. All ideas of normal fade as Carey becomes a national spectacle and his family converts into unreachable giants. He is pushed to the very limits of fear and existence with each passing day becoming a struggle just to survive.

The Shrinking Man #1 is the first of four issues based on Richard Matheson's 1956 book of the same name and Adams' adaptation of it feels right. The concept of a man shrinking little by little screams pulp science fiction, yet Adams capitalizes on it for more than just that. The story is presented in alternate tenses, with Adams giving the reader more insight into Scott's current state as it's juxtaposed against his gradual diminishing. The most obvious issue with shrinking is overcoming physical obstacles, but Adams focuses a lot on the emotional and mental obstacles that losing your established height also affects. Every aspect of Scott's life is touched by the affliction and Adams uses that to his advantage to infuse the character with an appeal earned at the expense of his livelihood.

Just as the subject of the book feels well-aged, the illustrations are equally up to the task of maintaining the atmosphere of the time the original book was written. Torres renders environments that feel mundane and suburban in Scott's past, yet transform into mammoth obstacle courses as he shrinks, testing his resolve and physical ability to survive. Characters are vague when it comes to detail, but Torres does effectively convey the size disparity haunting Scott throughout his ordeal. What's especially convenient are little artistic callouts when Scott is so small, drawing the reader's eye directly to where Scott is and allowing them to pan out from there to fully appreciate his diminutive stature. Varga relies on a washed-out color palette that harkens back to newspaper comic strips.

While it's terrifying to see a shrunken man squaring off against a spider, it's equally as terrifying to watch his marriage fall apart as he's in the process of shrinking. The really damaging aspect of it is that he really has nothing to do with it at all. Adams does a great job of capturing that fear on the part of Scott as he descends into what is essentially nothingness physically, taking along his mental state and emotions. Torres' art style doesn't emphasize character appearance all that much in terms of detail, but his depiction of the growing size disparities between Scott and everything/everyone around him is fascinating. The Shrinking Man #1 is a great adaptation that simultaneously acts as both an homage to science-fiction of yore and an astounding modern tale.

The Shrinking Man #1 is in stores July 29.

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