Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Eric Zawadzki and Sebastian Piriz
Colorist: Eric Zawadzki, Marissa Louise, and Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Eric Zawadzki
Cover Artist: Eric Zawadzki
There is a saying that implies that all stories that need to be told have already been told. I have always disagreed with this statement. Sure many, many stories have particular elements that are similar. Students of Joseph Campbell might say that when we break them down, all stories have similar themes. This might be true however everyday we encounter stories and situations that are unlike any we have ever encountered. Headspace is one of those stories that take the reader many places.
Here is another quote: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Friederich Nietzsche must have had comics in mind when he wrote that one. This is the decision the protagonist of Headspace, Shane, has to make while trying to survive in the mind of a merciless killer named Max Johnson.
Carpenter Cove is the town Shane is trapped in as its sheriff. What the reader learns along with Shane is that he is actually living in the mind of Max. Nothing is as it seems. There are bipedal talking dogs, killer alligators, and other monsters. Shane fails to save the inhabitants of Carpenter Cove each and every time. When all hope is lost, Shane meets one of the scientists involved in the experiment that mad Max Johnson into a secret assassin.
I enjoyed the fact that through the first two issues, the reader is in the dark about the entire story. Headspace is a head trip. There are subtle hints that things aren’t right in Carpenter Cove. It’s not until the third chapter, that readers are given a glimpse into what is going on. I thoroughly enjoyed the unraveling of the story. Shane realizes several things that force him to make a decision that might cost him his life and his sanity.
The pacing is perfect as the reader is slowly given tidbits of information that moves the story along. As the story progresses, everyone realizes that Max Johnson is a Pandora’s box that cannot be closed. While Shane has a way out, he learns that if he does choose that back door, more people will be killed. Max Johnson is the villain but Shane realizes that he can be the bigger villain if he makes the wrong choice.
The artwork is wonderful. Eric Zawadzki and Sebastian Piriz’ breakdowns fit perfectly with the story. It was chaotic. This was needed to flesh out the story. The action was defined well in the panels and went along with the pacing of the story. It was a wonderful sync of styles and the segue into a different artist did not take away from the story.
Finally, Ryan Lindsay wrote in a manner that really touches the reader. One will be along for the ride. In the end, many will probably make a different decision than the one Shane finally makes. Lindsay does not provide a happy ending. Like some stories, the world is not always filled with happy endings. I think this makes for great writing.