Proxima Centauri #4 from Image Comics is in comic book stores this Wednesday, and in this fourth installment of this six-issue limited series we go deeper into Sherwood Bredcoat’s crazy, chaotic, and emotional world.
The last issue left with our hero being overcome by a bunch of tiny blue bots that have been unleashed from a large carpet bag held by the Bag Man. While Sherwood was pinned down, the little blue bots swarmed him and crawled down his throat. Fortunately M Parasol was on the same frequency as the bots and managed to phase through Sherwood, forcing them out of him enough for him to regain control. Shortly after, their companion Dhog Dahog arrives on his bicycle to assist the two of them. Sherwood grabs his amulet Smiley, slamming it down on the ground to repel the little blue creatures as they try to swan him again. This wave awakens Shakey the Space Wizard from his meditation in his room aboard Proxima Centauri. The wizard teleports to his friends to assist them just as the bully kids appear on their bicycles to help stop the Bag Man as well. As they all fight desperately, M. Parasol yells out to Shakey to grab the Bag Man’s bag since it is his source of power. Shakey takes the bag and throws it over the Bag Man’s head to trap him inside his own device. The Bag Man reaches out at the last moment and pulls Shakey inside the bag with him. The bag quickly shrinks then disappears with a poof, much to the horror of the three heroes watching.
Sherwood then thanks the bully kids and apologizes for killing their leader earlier. The little blue bots, with their master now gone, start to lose power and dissolve. Suddenly Shakey reappears having defeated The Bag Man inside his own bag and teleporting back out to rejoin with his friends. Shakey pulls M. Parasol aside and tells her that he discovered something while inside the bag. The two of them take off to discuss it further leaving Sherwood and Dhog behind.
Sherwood then returns to the Scientist Herzog and Dr. EXT feeling more distressed and confused than ever. He asks the Scientist to make some more mindset pills for him to calm him down. Young Breadcoat is denied and told that he needs to not act like such a fiend. Herzog then gets frustrated after Dr. EXT suggests he postpone building his robot to assist in destroying all the little blue men before they take over the spectral realm. The issue ends with Sherwood asking Dr. EXT why the little blue men are so powerful, to which the good doctor replies that it is in fact Sherwood himself that makes them so strong.
This fourth issue really takes off even more as bits and pieces of what is really going on are subtly revealed. Much like The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland, we start to see that maybe everything isn’t as it seems on Proxima Centauri. At times it feels like Sherwood may be institutionalized and suffering from some mental illness or trauma that has caused him to break from reality and create this world inside of his mind. In this issue Sherwood reflects back to before being trapped. He remembers a time when he and his brother would go on missions to destroy monsters directed by his amulet Smiley. There is also further discussion about pills and medication which also point towards this possible scenario. As the issues progress, Sherwood comes to grips more and more with his emotional states and with the way that he treats people including his brother Orson, his companions, and even the bully kids. There seems to be an underlying theme of Sherwood wanting to get better.
The artwork and visuals in this issue also reflect this idea. As the story progresses and as Sherwood discovers more about himself, the art become more colorized and detailed graphically. It’s almost as if the real world and the fantasy world in Sherwood’s head are merging together. This issue contains even more vibrant fantastic imagery. The scene in particular where M. Parasol phases through Sherwood to brush off the little blue bots is drawn in a very detailed and visceral fashion.
There are also visual clues in the artwork such as Sherwood being observed by the Scientist and Dr. EXT in what appears to be some sort of observation room as Sherwood draws symbols on the floor with crayons. It’s almost as if the visual cues suggest to the reader that the spectral realm in Proxima Centauri might represent Sherwood’s being institutionalized for some mental illness and that the little blue bots may represent the illness itself. The way that Farel Dalrymple presents the story in such an abstract and metaphoric fashion, the reader can only speculate at this point in time. This method however makes for some very intriguing storytelling both narratively and visually, and further sucks the reader in to find even more clues to discovered the mystery of what is actually happening in Proxima Centauri.
Overall, this is yet another amazing issue in this groundbreaking series. Farel Dalrymple continues to amaze and excite both visually and narratively in the most fantastic of ways. This is a must-have issue for anyone reading the series as it pulls back the curtain a little further to reveals secret to those attuned enough to pick up on.