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The Displaced #5
BOOM! Studios

Comic Books

‘The Displaced’ #5 will have you celebrating life’s heartaches and triumphs

The final ‘episode’ of ‘The Displaced’ is a solid but imperfect little tear-jerker.

While The Displaced has been a generally solid story thus far, issue #4 was a proper standout. Because in that issue, The Displaced really came into its own, and we got to see how the creative team (writer Ed Brisson, artist Luca Casalanguida, and colorist Dee Cunnife) had created this as both a potent thriller and a profound meditation. A story just as much about its core gimmick — what happens if a whole town suddenly stops existing? — that ultimately delved into ideas of community, memory, and survival.

But could the book really and truly stick its landing, and give us a finale that nailed the spirit of the story and extended its core ideas and thematic interests? And the answer is generally yes.

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To an extent, I do have some minor issues with The Displaced #5. Mostly, after some of the tensions between the “Whitby survivors” started boiling over, it just didn’t feel like we got a truly satisfactory ending. We rushed a bit to get to the finish line, and it felt like a little more room and maybe even part of another issue could have really given this book the breathing room to make the most out of the final conflict. As an extension of that, our “villain,” Tavis, didn’t get to truly show off and provide more of a substantial counterpoint to the book’s big ideas about how communities really develop and the dangers of rugged individualism. There was clearly potential here, and we could have had even bigger stakes with a much more robust impact. But that’s the nature of modern comics storytelling, and creators often have to work with fewer issues.

As much as I think the story didn’t live up to its grander potential in terms of storytelling prowess and addressing various layers, I still can’t argue with the final result. Because The Displaced ends with a really powerful moment between Paige and Emmett, a configuration that didn’t get heaps of time across this run but that just felt perfectly suited for what this book was shooting for collectively. It felt a little random, but then maybe that’s the point: life is a random deluge of goodness and horrors, and we sort of have to deal with it with earnestness and decency. That’s what this book was trying to tell us as it made these people suffer through perhaps the worst of all imaginable fates: to simply no longer matter.

The Displaced

BOOM! Studios

And through that we learned about the importance not just of friendships but knowing that we exist in societies, where our issues and values can be reflected and ultimately find significance if only that we share it with others. It was a chance to see how we all survive through pain and grief by engaging in this process of connecting and sharing, even at the most basic or tertiary of levels. The Displaced showed what happens when societies go bad and we turn against one another just as much as it showed how these structures empower our lives and give us meaning and direction.

Was I a little sad, for instance, that the Gabby-Emmett dynamic doesn’t get the ending I’d hoped for? Of course, but the book seemingly recognizes that guilt and responded with a powerful affirmation. One that was as much about demonstrating the importance of sharing both pain and guilt, and how that process is actually the most human and generous thing we can do. Societies are connected as much through the good as the bad, and by emphasizing that accordingly here through just two people, The Displaced let us have our grief and complicated emotions and made us feel more alive for getting to carry these things onward to possibly help one another or even just share a moment with someone else.

Similarly, the art team’s contributions were a major enough facilitator of that “dichotomy” of life/death and love/loss. In past issues of The Displaced, they’ve managed to really balance a depiction of a bleak, sometimes ugly world with pops of surreal/metaphysical beauty, and through that we were primed for the magic of the book’s bigger meditations. It’s been a way to really explore this world in full, and to see how our ideas and perceptions shape and inform our basic feelings and interactions.

The Displaced

BOOM! Studios

Issue #5 was mostly about the blood and dirt of this world, and that included some extra violent moments with Tavis. Those bits, where gore and horror felt more apparent even if only from a visual sense, felt like a final reminder of the bleak and brutal tendencies of the world — those moments that are always waiting for us. By the time we got to the ending with Paige and Emmett, the art team had one more small but mighty display of this book’s magic, and it was this utterly moving display. It happened so quickly and quietly that you almost felt like it didn’t happen, which is, again, sort of the point in a book about the sharp brevity of life and the importance of even fleeting moments of connection.

It felt like a truly fitting demonstration of The Displaced‘s careful use of these more fantastical qualities; a physical manifestation, if you will, of how fleeting things may seem, but how community and caring and all that decency can still make something beautiful and significant. It was another instance of perhaps this slightly imperfect execution still resulting in something wonderful, and if that’s not an apt metaphor for life then I don’t know what could ever be. Sure, maybe I wanted even more magic, but then that’s just another way the visuals felt committed to giving us just what we needed to stay fully connected. Combined with the work of the narrative to control the ebb and flow of emotions, and it’s clear that The Displaced knew what it was doing all along in engaging its readers with gusto.

And that’s really what I’m going to take away from this book. Because even if the execution wasn’t always A-1, or it felt like maybe some of the lessons did feel a teensy bit obvious (people good, dying alone bad), you can’t diminish that final afterglow. It was this sense that through it all, we’d connected with the creators in a truly pure sense — one emphasizing storytelling, yeah, but also about how we all need a reminder of why we grieve, how we share in this world together, and what it all might mean (as tiny, grieving apes). The ending hints at the teeny possibility of a future — maybe not necessarily for this story, but certainly the ideas and values this book so lovingly and passionately espoused. That right there’s the only win you ever need.

The Displaced #5
‘The Displaced’ #5 will have you celebrating life’s heartaches and triumphs
The Displaced #5
You can't deny the sheer humanity and poignancy of this book even as it wasn't an entirely perfect ending.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The book remained thematically consistent, like a dear friend holding you accountable.
The ideas here speak of the power of communities, the dangers of going it alone, and what makes life hold any value.
This book maintained a warmth and depth that reminds us of why good stories are so invaluable.
The craft and execution wasn't entirely perfect here, and some threads weren't addressed with the utmost efficiency.
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