**Please note this review contains minor spoilers**
Written by: Ryan K Lindsay
Art by: Owen Gieni
Publisher: Dark Horse
Negative Space #1 was a fantastic character study on a writer suffering from depression getting Writer’s Block on his suicide note, a real departure from the norm of the structure first issues have. It didn’t really develop story much, aside from showing the main players, and instead focused on getting across to the reader just how unhealthy Guy was, psychologically. Of course, with this being only a four part mini series, such a slow and methodical pace, while enjoyable, could not be kept up and so issue two focuses allot more on driving ahead with the story and plot of the tale, beginning with the origins of the Evorah and the Kindred. The majority of this book is spent giving exposition on things, namely about the Strangers and their plan to stop the Evorah and although Guy does take more of a back seat as things are explained to him by Beta, an Evorah who prefers to feed on happiness, not sadness, Guy’s demeanor and thoughts do still shine through.
I was a little disappointed to see that Woody wouldn’t be Guy’s guide through this world, having enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship and anticipated the betrayal that Guy would surely have felt after discovering Woody’s secret. Instead of Woody we have Beta who fortunately proved to be just as interesting, if not more, due to his incessant focus on happiness and somewhat alien understanding putting him a bit at odds with Guy, who even says, ‘Can’t they show some respect for the rest of us normal, unhappy people.’ The two do have almost a comedic duo approach throughout the story, with Beta being overly positive and making quips in high stress situations and Guy playing the straight man, questioning why he’s going through with it all and seeming more like a third party that’s just being dragged along than actually being a part of anything.
One of the problems I could see people having with the book is a dislike for Beta which could be born from a belief that he doesn’t care about Guy at all, which is a valid viewpoint, he does often put Guy’s feelings second and is very crass with him when it comes to death, even going so far as to point out that the reason Guy might be going along with his plans in the hope that it would kill him. I actually rather enjoyed this and am looking forward to see where it will lead in the next two issues as it does set the two against each other quite a bit and putting Guy alongside a being that can feel what he can, despite not fully understanding why Guy feels that way, is more promising than putting him alongside Woody who seemed unaware of Guy’s problem at all. I also did enjoy that Beta is his own person, he has his own goals and aims, he does make time for Guy when he can but, due to his central position with the Strangers, there isn’t much opportunity for this.
Although I did begin this review by saying that the large amount of exposition and the drop in focus on Guy is a necessary evil in order for the story to progress that doesn’t mean I don’t resent it. I am enjoying the story about the Evorah vs the Strangers but throughout my time reading the book I really missed Guy’s constant commentary, which only came in every now and then (although it still maintained that gold standard) and although I did enjoy Beta’s company I would have preferred to see Guy and Woody interacting more than they did and worry that two issues may not be enough for them to believably resolve their issues. These are issues that in TPB format probably won’t be noticeable as it will be sandwiched between #1 and #3 (which I would expect to have a sort of happy medium between #1 and #2’s ratio of character exploration and story development).
One of the thing’s that was so good about the first book was that it didn’t waste a single page or panel, everything that was there needed to be for some reason or another. But here, there are several instances of moments that could have been avoided with minor changes and didn’t really lend anything to the story. The most key example of this I can find is in the Stranger’s headquarters when a turncoat for the Kindred tries to blow up Beta; it’s a pretty lengthy scene but it doesn’t do anything special, the duo gain access to a Kindred sub but it could have just as easily been written that the Stranger’s had made a sub and not had that lengthy scene, Guy has a good monologue moment but that would have been placed during the Kindred raid at the beginning.
Negative Space #2 is a good comic, better than most but the problem is, is that it’s an 8/10 following on from a 10/10, no matter how good this issue was it probably wasn’t going to match up to my hopes for it. The art of Owen Gieni is truly on point here, with amazing backdrops and a cover that is my favorite thing about this issue (although if it were the cover for #1 it would have been my favorite thing about that issue too). Overall Negative Space does continue to be a phenomenal series and I will continue to laud it as one of the most interesting comics out right now but I do miss the gratuitous amounts of character exploration and moody tones that made me fall so in love with the first issue.