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Polarity, written by Say Anything’s Max Bemis with art by Jorge Coelho delves into the bi-polar mind of Timothy Woods. Timothy has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, after a near fateful accident that occurred during one of Timothy’s manic episodes (he believed he was God and tried to part the red sea of traffic). The rest of the comic explores Timothy’s perception of life on medicine, and finally his relapse. The kicker is, while Timothy may be certifiably mentally ill, he may actually have super powers.
I was concerned that this title would add attempt to glam up to mental illness. However, much of the material used in the comic is drawn from Bemis’s own life. He has had his struggles with mental illness, and the issue reads realistically. Wood’s life on medication may seem dull, but his spiral back into a manic phase is not presented as something to be desired. The added element of potential super powers is intriguing, but we’ll have to wait until next issue to see how it plays into the madness.
Concerns about the representation of mental illness aside, the writing of this book is absolutely stellar. I was immensely impressed with a panel at the beginning where Timothy shares a bonding moment with his bestie, an “awww” moment that’s sometimes hard to pull off seriously between two male buddies. My favorite panel of the comic though has to be when Timothy is spiraling, decides he is Jesus, and starts naming his apostles after characters in Judd Apatow movies.
The book is a thoroughly enjoyable hectic ride, with touches of warm fuzzies, absurdity, laughs and violence – all the marks of a manic romp. The only downside is the brief drop into depression when you realize that a) there are only going to be 4 issues and b) you have to put the book down.