Review - Headspace #1

"They made me with a dog head because dogs are friendly and trustworthy."

It's easy to get lost in one's head. There's a lot going on in there: schedules, lessons, calculations. There are even some corners of the mind that are a little darker and require the thinker to travel to a less than ideal place. Getting lost in the mind can be truly terrifying at times, a terror further exacerbated when there are monsters threatening everyone around you as in Headspace #1 from MonkeyBrain Comics. The issue is written by Ryan K. Lindsay, illustrated by Eric Zadawski and inked/colored by Chris Peterson and Marissa Louise.

The inhabitants of Carpenter Cove have recently made a rather startling discovery. Their strange town is actually a construct in the mind of a killer. Shane, the sheriff, wants to get back to his real life but one dark connection between him and the killer is going to make him rethink everything. There's a good bit of crazy monsters, a dog-headed bartender and citizens on the brink of insanity all thrown in for good measure.

There's a lot going on in Headspace #1. Lindsay has created a world in Carpenter Cove that, practically, makes no sense at all, but in a good way. Shane is fighting for control of a situation he can't really control, largely because there are issues at play that exceed his ability to control them. Couple that with the fact that he really doesn't have a complete grasp of the situation to begin with and you've got a tale that's equal parts weird and somewhat intrinsic. Shane and Max are two sides of a coin, with both of them fighting to take over the other side. The thing is, Max somehow knows what he's after, whereas Shane doesn't completely understand. Even though he doesn't completely understand, Shane manages to accept the world he's newly inhabiting as a matter of fact, not even blinking in the sight of monsters.

Zadawksi's art is a great fit for the story. Shane gets most of the attention and rightfully so as he's the main character, with Zadawski spending more time on him than most of the other characters. Characters in the foreground definitely get more attention, prompting them to stand out a little more against a relatively vague background. Max is illustrated as a gritty individual with a proverbial axe to grind and even appears physically to be the foil to Shane that the story asks him to be. There's nothing really special about the panel layouts other than a few insets here and there, but by and large it's the standard layout. One particular sequence of tall, slender panels does a great job of showing progressive violence and underscores Max's vileness.

Headspace #1 is a pretty fascinating tale that offers an interesting premise. The entire story seems to take place in someone's mind, which means that anything really is possible. The closest comparison is Inception, only instead of dreaming you're inhabiting a much more complex series of thoughts, dreams and imagination. Shane is convincing enough as a do-gooder hero type and Max is presenting to be a more than capable enemy for him to square off against. The two are--at present--inextricably linked, but unraveling the threads that bind their lives should make for a pretty interesting series. Headspace #1 is a good one to take a look at if you like books that are a little off-kilter and challenge your imagination.

Headspace #1 is available in stores March 5.