Review - Complex #1

Waking up in a surrealistic nightmare is never an enjoyable experience. Waking up in a surrealistic nightmare with gaps of memory missing is even less enjoyable. That's the scenario one man finds himself entrapped by in Complex #1 from Impulsive Ideas/Alterna Comics.

Complex #1 is written by Michael Malkin, with art by Kay, letters by Dekara and cover colors by Vladimir Popov.

The best way to describe the first issue is to explain exactly how it's formatted. The first issue is eight, eight-page chapters collected into one volume. Each chapter was originally run as independent vignettes, only now the collection makes the story move much faster.

The mystery lies somewhere in Towne for Zach King, a man who seems to be living in a constant nightmare. Zach can never seem to remember certain parts of his life. It's only as you read the issue that you learn he's part of a more sinister plan.

Zach is inserted into Towne and is observed in a form very similar to that of The Truman Show. As the issue progresses, Zach makes subtle observations that begin to allow him to piece it all together and, by the end of the issue, it's suggested that Zach may be onto something.

Malkin's tale is being likened to a J.J. Abrams tale and there are ready comparisons to be drawn. The story is very much a mystery that is being unraveled as you read, with plenty of twists thrown in.

There's also the recurring image of a snowglobe, adding to the surrealness of the issue. The concept behind the story is being trapped in a small town and not being able to get out. It's emphasized by the notion that not only can you not escape, you're not quite sure what you're trying to escape from.

Kay's artwork is all black and white and fairly simplistic. It's possible that color illustrations would have taken away from the atmosphere of the book, but it's hard to not imagine how much more effective the storytelling would be with color.

Complex #1 is just that...complex. It's an intriguing start to a surreal mystery that thrusts Zach in the middle of a nightmare with no easy path out. Reading along as Zach puts the puzzle together will be interesting.

Complex #1 is available now.