It's so hard to launch a smaller comic in this industry, one without spandex and a big-two publisher. In fact, it's hard to even launch a new comic with spandex and a big-two publisher, so it's always exciting as a reviewer to check out a new seemingly random book and find a gem. "Polarity" #1 by Max Bemis and Jorge Coelho from BOOM! Studios is one of those gems.
Fine artist Tim is only successful after a devastating bi-polar episode that left him in a mental institute and with some "seriously inspired" work done while he was unraveling. Now on meds he's having trouble coping with the banality of the world -- everything from vapid social climbing hipsters to the lack of "intensity" in his work while on meds. So Tim decides to experiment with his disorder, which is when things of course become horrifyingly interesting all around.
Bemis's writing is smart and surprisingly funny when it needs to be and utterly disturbing when that's more fitting. He handles the bi-polar aspect of the mini-series well, and for anyone familiar with the disorder, his depiction will ring flinchingly true. Ultimately the book could easily fall apart with the wrong tone, but Bemis handles it all effortlessly, striking just the right balance between humor and horror.
Coelho has a fantastic style for a story like this. He handles hipster fashion and disaffected too cool twenty-somethings with exactly the right tongue in cheek attitude. However, where he really excels is in depicting Tim's bi-polar disorder, both as it spins out of control, in what we as readers see of Tim/Tim's point of view, as well in the depiction of Tim's own art within the story. Similarly, Felipe Sobreiro's colors are warm and calm, comforting if expected, before all hell breaks loose for Tim at which point the palette shifts appropriately.
A double-page spread that depicts Tim's downward spiral into bi-polar madness is perfectly executed in both art and writing, somehow finding a way to be funny and terrifying at the same time. In the hands of a lesser team this easily could have gone wrong, but instead it cements the issue as utterly intriguing and future issues worthy of purchase.
If you're tired of all the same stories and like your comics smart, unexpected, and slightly off the beaten path, give "Polarity" #1 a read. It has all the elements in place to be not only a hell of a first issue, but also a hell of a mini-series.