Negative Space #4 Review

Written by: Ryan K Lindsay

Art by: Owen Gieni

Publisher: Dark Horse

All good things must come to an end, and Lindsay and Gieni’s odyssey of depression and existential horror is no exception. This series has held a special place on my shelf and in my heart. It will continue to be a shining example of the truth that comics can delve into sensitive subjects and be about more than people in spandex. The first issue was met with critical acclaim, with its superb pacing and character exploration, while from there the series has only gone from strength to strength. The all important question that is to be asked here therefore is, ‘does it live up to the rest of a series with a triumphant crash of a climax? Or will it waft away like a half deflated balloon?’

For those of you that don’t know already, Negative Space is a story about a writer called Guy who, after a long bout with depression, gets writer’s block on his suicide note. Guy then learns that an international organization is conspiring to spread misery like his to appease elder beings under the sea. Guy is then talked into fighting against the organization as part of a resistance group and has just been successful in destroying the ancient beings’ underwater lair.

First of all, if I were to equate this conclusion to anything it would be ‘if Cabin in the Woods kept going for about another 30 minutes after the final scene and mix in some “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” for good measure.’ (Why yes, I’m am trying to stay as vague as possible for spoiler reasons, why do you ask?)  The one fault I could find in this book is that for maybe first third of the book, all we hear is mostly exposition about what’s going on. Even this isn’t much of a complaint as it doesn’t hold your hand and go over exactly what we’ve seen happen in previous issues due to a time jump. It also goes into some detail on the history of the kindred, and Gieni supplements these pages with some of his best, foreboding art that we’ve seen him muster so far. We’re treated to some cool world-building, and the tension gets ramped up.

If you go into this expecting a happy ending, I would ask you if you’ve been following the same series as me, but I don’t think anyone could fully brace themselves for the depths that Negative Space will go. Lindsay has long been an expert on knowing just how to pull on our heart strings, and this is no different as he once again presents brilliantly how utterly all-consuming and inescapable depression can be.

The conclusion of the story holds up as a perfect bookend to the plot of conspiracy that we’ve seen develop through these issues, with a few twists and turns in this book alone that are sure to catch you off guard.

“What about Guy’s character arc?” I hear you ask, “His plight was the true focus of the series! Does it live up to our expectations?” To which I’d say “You think I’d leave it to this late in the review to mention that if it didn’t?”

Guy’s character is ingrained into us not only by how brutal his struggle is and how honestly and frankly that is shown to us, but also because we are shown the man outside of the illness through things like his rather detached yet all too poignant monologues. My favorite now being ‘ ‘Time drags… maybe it stopped and the man who wants to end his life suddenly feels immortal.’ This is all perfectly kept alive in this issue, and Guy’s end-state is portrayed in such a way that you can easily draw some amazing parallels and differences in Guy’s character from his first few pages in issue one to his last in issue four. I believe that kind of writing is deserving of a lot of kudos to Lindsay and Gieni.

Negative Space #4 is a perfect send off for Lindsay and Gieni’s twisted tale, with everything that has made the series great to date condensed down into a single issue. If you haven’t read the series yet, I strongly recommend you ask your LCS to track down the issues or wait until the TPB is released as Negative Space is truly a tour de force.