Ahhh, DC’s Young Animal is back and I can finally breathe. If you know anything about me, you know I’ve been Young Animal’s biggest cheerleader since it was announced. When it went away, I was crestfallen. But after reading Collapser #1, I feel like things are right in the comics world.
The issue doesn’t come out until July 17th, but there’s a lot to get excited about until then. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving away any spoilers.
DC’s Young Animal does not do “normal.” It’s simply not in their vocabulary. Mental health, however, they have covered. Look at any book the imprint has released and you’ll find at least one character in therapy, dealing with trauma, or distrusting their own mind. We’ve seen a lot of depictions of these challenges, but not one quite like Collapser.
In Collapser #1, we meet Liam James — a nurse who moonlights as a DJ. He has kind a difficult day job that he takes very seriously, but all his hopes and dreams lie in music. But boy, does he have one hell of a hurdle to get through.
Liam has anxiety. Big time. He has racing thoughts — often of the worst case scenario. He replays and analyzes social situations he just walked away from. He’s scared to death — near the point of obsession — of robbers breaking into his home. The dude’s dealing with a lot.
But sadly, he’s about to deal with something more — a damn back hole smack dab in the middle of his chest. Probably not the best.
Who is Responsible For This?
Collapser #1 has a pretty rad team behind it. Co-writers Mikey Way and Shaun Simon are both super talented creators who bring a lot to the table. While this is Mikey’s first book, it is far from Shaun’s. He’s written books like Wizard Beach, Neverboy, and True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys — a book written in conjunction with an album by Mikey’s former band. The two have known each other for a long time, and that camaraderie will certainly shine through in Collapser.
As for the art team, we have Ilias Kyriazis on lines, Cris Peter on colors, and Simon Bowland on letters. If you can’t tell, that’s a beast of an art team. Ilias has worked on titles such as Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Secret Identities, and Elysium Online. Cris has done color work for All-Star Batman, Batgirl: Rebirth, Bitch Planet, and more. Simon is perhaps one of the most talented letterers out there. He’s worked on a metric fuckton of books, like The Boys, Red Sonja, The Dreaming, Goddess Mode, and so much more.
It’s hard to put out a gripping first issue, but this team has come together to take you by the throat … kind of like a black hole that was delivered directly to your doorstep by a sort of alien creature? I’m not really sure what that was yet. (Exciting! Mystery! Intrigue!)
So, Does It Work?
It’s a first issue, so it’s hard to judge the trajectory of Collapser #1. But in all honesty, this ticked a lot of boxes for me. The characters are interesting, the concept and plot are kind of irresistible, and the art is gorgeous.
Honestly, the art style reminded me a lot of Eternity Girl at times — particularly the color palette. So maybe I was predisposed to like it. But regardless, there are character design and framing choices that really make this book work. It’s a joy to look at, and even cooler when you dive in and break it down. There’s a lot to see in here, and it’s an enjoyable feast. Especially the lettering — and there’s so much of it.
Shaun and Mikey wrote a lot of words. Like, a LOT of words. It’s mostly Liam’s inner monologue, and to be quite honest I did not like it at first. His thoughts were all over the place, jumping from topic to topic. He repeats himself a lot, like his mind is on a loop. Then, about six pages in, it smacked me in the face. It’s anxiety. It is a perfect depiction of anxiety. It was like I was reading my own mind on a page.
I’ve been officially diagnosed with anxiety for a little over a year and a half now, but I’ve lived with it for as long as I can remember. I have racing thoughts. I reexamine interactions with people to see how I definitely screwed up. I worry constantly about someone breaking into my place. I overthink and sabotage myself. All of this was right there on the page in Liam, staring at me. I had an initial negative reaction to this because I read comics to escape from all that — to slow my brain down for ten freaking minutes. But for the first time, my brain was there, too.
Once I realized that, I started the book again and it was a different experience. The skilled writing there is undeniable. To take an experience that feels so isolating and unique — one that’s hard to put into words — and translate it to the page is a remarkable feat.
But will people pick up on it? If they don’t have anxiety or know what it’s like, I’m not sure. There may be a barrier to entry here. But I would implore people to give it a chance, because Collapser #1 is pretty incredible once you get over that learning curve. It has a lot of promise, and I’m absolutely ecstatic to see what comes next for Collapser.
You can pick up Collapser #1 on July 17th.