by Max Bemis and Jorge Coelho, Felipe Sobreiro, Steve Wands
Max Bemis is the frontman for genre band, Say Anything. Polarity is Bemis' first public foray into comics. This excursion is not new for the modern musician with Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Tom Morello and now even Corey Taylor all with works of their own. However, this does not make Polarity any less worthy or any less original. Instead, Polarity is a true work of creativity with autobiographical roots and a real strength for character.
Polarity's protagonist is Tim, a member of the art community though evidently on the fringes of such a lifestyle. Tim has recently had a manic episode and found himself hospitalized as a result. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the story picks up with Tim trying to find his way in life since his reemergence after an incident. Writer Max Bemis puts himself into the story in this manner as he, himself, suffered a manic episode that likewise resulted in a hospital stay and a Bipolar diagnosis.
Much of the story covers Tim reflecting on his new status quo. Through interactions and narration, the reader gets a real sense of detachment from the present. Not in a delusion sense, but through of lack of interest and level of disengagement from his friends and work. Incredibly apathetic and battling with the inclination to become his former, unstable self to feel alive once more, Tim turns to the barkeep and asks for a whiskey.
Polarity is incredibly personal. Whether the overarching plot elements of the story will be true or allegorical remains to be seen, but the character of Tim and his train of thought are sourced out of the writer's first hand experience, reflecting from the other side. Because of Tim's mental illness, he becomes an unreliable narrator. By the end of this first issue it may be difficult to tell what is happening and what Tim thinks is happening. While this can lead to frustration for some, the mysteries of Polarity come not out of big conspiracies with running questions, but of the protagonist own unhinged mind.
It should also be mentioned that this book is also visually dynamic. Jorge Coelho is the artist on the title and the closest comparison to his work would be birthed out of the minds of Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon's Daytripper mixed with Tradd Moore's art in Luther Strode. Coelho's panel layouts,at times, mirror the art gallery sensation of the protagonist's life, and also tend to mirror Tim's state of mind, toying with the structure based on his mental clarity. At one point, Tim finds himself at an art expo, and rather than filling the background with fuzzy frames, Coelho creates dozens of would-be works of art, the product of which is astounding, almost as if these pieces did exist.
Polarity is a four issue mini-series of self reflection with a real control on story telling. The book is already sold out in its first printing and with a second printing announced before the release of issue 1. It may be difficult to track down for print-only readers, but it is definitely worth the effort. Tell your shop to get you a copy of the second print if necessary, or grab it digitally. Bemis has a story to tell and you will want to be listening.