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? Find out in COLLAPSER, a superhero story that could only come from DC’s Young Animal!
Collapser #1 is a high concept exploration into mental health that truly could only come from DC’s Young Animal popup imprint. It’s a relatable look at an internal struggle manifesting into the world in a very interesting way!
The ultimate strength of the first issue in Collapser is primarily found in the concept itself and how the creative team builds a narrative around it. Liam’s work at the hospice and life as a DJ, while grounded in reality, aren’t particularly all that exciting. It’s what happens when he feels helpless that the story takes off, initiating multiple aspects successfully. First, it brings in the fantastical element the issue had sorely missed over its first half, and second, it uses a devastatingly low point in Liam’s life to kick off what the creative team has labelled a “superhero story”.
As someone who has a history of struggling with both manic depression and anxiety, this issue immediately drew me in. It’s handling of mental health issues feels genuine and the use of a black hole is a gorgeous visualization that strikes an emotional chord inside me. Liam’s three-day disappearance inside the black hole is a very real phenomenon that people with similar struggles can certainly identify with.
I know I did.
Outside of its use of mental health themes throughout the story, the issue struggles slightly with pacing briefly before pulling everything together right at the end. The cliffhanger is solid and will have readers curious for where the series will be going, but it’s Liam’s personal journey that will make or break it. The setup in Collapser #1 inspires hope that this creative team have a story that is worth telling, but this is just the beginning.
The artwork might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does suit the story uniquely well. The character work is super stylized, which isn’t a bad thing, but it will probably take some getting used to. The artistic direction made much more sense when the black hole finally manifested itself, as it was able to really expand and utilize the color palette in interesting ways. The highlight for me personally were the letters from Simon Bowland though. They gave a distinct voice to the dark thoughts in Liam’s head and will undoubtedly be a driving force in the series as it moves forward.
Overall, Collapser #1 is a strong start to a new series at DC’s Young Animal imprint. While it isn’t packed with nonstop action, it’s a thoughtful journey with a relatable message that deserves to be explored!
'Collapser #1' is a thoughtful exploration into the impacts of mental health and our attempts at coping told through the lens of Liam, a man who lives with an actual black hole inside him.
Collapser #1: Living With a Black Hole
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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