Superheroes now inundate our culture, but new ideas can still to float to the top, and Crashing might be one of them. Set within a world of superheroes, Crashing follows the story of doctor Rose Osler who specializes in treating patients with superpowers. By writer Matthew Klein and artist Morgan Beem, the story deals not only with the realistic chaos and destruction of humans with superpowers, but with Osler’s ongoing struggle with addiction.
It’s evident from the very first panel the creators have put a lot of thought into this medical drama. The world feels quite real – the details put in evidence and the general vibe is as good as any medical drama I’ve experienced. Crashing #1 opens with Rose detailing to the reader her max dosing of caffeine to get through a day. People are wounded in the ER, and some are even crashing, losing their heartbeat, and dying. As she moves around helping people, she comes across a patient whose arm can’t be pricked with a needle. So one eye opens, and optic blasts take out people in the room. Just another day in the emergency room for Rose.
All the while, Rose is asking for more coffee, and she crashes. You can see the addiction to energy drinks may lead to something else, and soon Beem and Klein take us into a flashback that reveals Rose’s issues with addiction.
That’s not all this issue covers, which is one of the reasons why it’s a joy to read. Surprises are in store for readers, like finding out about Rose’s home life but also a secret life she leads. Given the intrigue of being an ER doctor is enough to warrant a series on its own, it’s cool to see Klein put a lot of ideas into the series. There are several ways the narrative could go, and it’ll be exciting to see how Rose copes with outside dilemmas on top of her internal one.
Art by Beem is excellent, with colors by Triona Trona Farrell that are naturalistic but not entirely realistic. It suits the cartoony look Beem’s going for that’s realistic enough to take deadly serious. Character acting is particularly important in this story, and Beem nails everyone, like a nurse that’s unsure or the vulnerable Rose. There’s an excellent level of detail throughout that grounds the location of Boston as needed, too. Beem makes you feel for Rose while making the world around here, which could go up in smoke at any moment thanks to super-powered jerks, all the more believable.
Color is used in an exciting way, particularly the color blue. In one scene, Rose looks at a blue pill and sees her reflection. In the last few pages, sound effects are blue, and blue backdrops suggest things will get worse for Rose. There’s a connection between this color and addiction, it seems. It doesn’t always work – the final page features blue, and the pills Rose so desperately wants to take in a strange way, but it’s a neat layer to the story.
Letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou brings plenty of verve and character to word balloons and dialogue. I particularly like how the tails of the word balloons tend to be a solid black line and a solid white line together, but not enclosing the white. It’s a neat detail that gives the dialogue a looser and more chaotic feel. The hand-drawn and somewhat wavy balloons themselves add tension as well.
Crashing #1 is a promising start to a series that ventures into a genre we don’t have enough of: superhero medical drama. In its first issue, Klein and Beem have introduced us to a complex world and a main character who’s as complex as they come, making for added potential in exploring its story.
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