There's a voice in the head of Liam James questioning everything he does-from his job at the nursing home to keeping his relationship with his girlfriend afloat. Liam suffers from anxiety, and the only thing that quiets it is music, which makes a weekly DJ gig his one saving grace. But Liam's life changes forever when he receives a black hole in the mail (yes, you read that right), one that takes up residence in his chest, grants him insane superpowers, turns him into a celebrity and draws him into a cosmic conflict beyond his wildest imagination. Where did this black hole come from? Why Liam? Is power the cure? Or will superstardom turn Liam into a black hole himself?
With the arrival of Collapser #6, the final issue in the awkwardly insightful series from DC’s Young Animal, we find a story that is encapsulated by the struggle for self identity and expression, as well as what it means to be happy.
From the first pages of Collapser #1 it was remarkably evident that this would be a series exploring the impacts of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Interwoven into this exploration in the following issues is a classic superhero tale of good and evil, but more importantly, a broader look at inheriting disorders that are influenced both genetically and environmentally. It’s a multifaceted and complex look at the factors that go into an individual’s state of mental health and how it can be addressed.
While the six issues in this series find most of their strength in their more grounded and relatable themes, this is still very much a Young Animal book. Just when you think you understand everything about the series, it twists yet again with lots of dark yet whimsical elements to excite your imagination. As we follow Liam on his sometimes selfish, yet well-intended journey of discovery, we see him rise to the superhero mantle known as Collapser and fall for the weakest of his desires, setting him down a path of near oblivion.
It’s difficult not to appreciate the delicate care that went into making this series. Taking on topics such as mental health can be a tricky task because if it isn’t executed well, it could send the wrong message or just fall flat. Collapser, as a series, is one of the best stories to tackle these themes in comics that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It’s respectful, but also has a keen awareness of the depths of such issues and how it can impact your thoughts and behaviors. This both grounds the story as well as guides the whimsical nature of the black hole’s existence, tying it directly into the emotions that come from Liam’s intricate relationships, usage of music as a lifeline and even the overarching familial nature unfolding.
None of this would have been possible without the uniquely dark yet vivid artwork from the talented creative team. It’s incredibly difficult to visualize such intangible concepts like mental health and even a scientific black hole. But this is a great example of the power of the comics medium because the artwork helps to capture what simply can’t be said. The visual of Liam emotionally struggling with an all-consuming black hole inside his chest rings true to so many of themes in the series, but when we discover the ancestry of the black hole, the depictions take on an entirely new level of meaning. In this complexity, the series is simply magnificent.
Collapser isn’t a perfect series though. There are tropes we’ve seen quite a few times, like the “surprise” betrayal of Liam’s agent known as Constellation to the arrival of his Father at the end of issue #5. The narrative beats can most likely be predicted by the experienced reader, but the story luckily doesn’t rely on them. Yes there are cliches, but they serve an underlying purpose that only helps to punctuate the more powerful themes at play.
Ultimately, Collapser #1-6 is a refreshing change of pace for DC’s Young Animal, showing that the platform can easily handle a different approach while staying true to the core traits of the imprint. Though it has it’s faults, it proves to be an incredibly worthwhile story, leaving me to only wonder…
When’s the sequel?
With the arrival of Collapser #6, the final issue in the awkwardly insightful series from DC's Young Animal, we find a story that is encapsulated by the struggle for self identity and expression, as well as what it means to be happy.
Collapser #1-6: Worthless. Betrayed. Unlovable. Unwanted. Awkward. Help.
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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