Collapser #3 marks the halfway point in this arc, and it’s a doozie of a third issue. While it is still a phenomenal depiction of anxiety, that narrative takes one step back to make room for another discussion — the effects and trappings of fame. While writers Mikey Way and Shaun Simon explore this theme, they also add in a significant amount of character development and exposition.
There’s a lot going on in this issue, so let’s break it down step-by-step, with some mild spoilers along the way.
The Black Hole of Exposition
Simon and Way spend abut five and a half pages –a quarter of the book — giving us some backstory for the black hole inside Liam James’ chest. While this seems like a lot, it’s definitely necessary and actually quite entertaining. We learn the identity of the skeleton man in the balloon from the end of the last issue, and how he ties to Liam directly. Hi name is Baron Throe, and he helped Liam’s dad to trap the black hole in hopes of controlling it. There’s a lot of cult and superhero stuff going on here, and it’s definitely an interesting and gripping opening to Collapser #3.
Though these events don’t have a direct effect on the rest of the plot in this particular issue, it most certainly provides context and builds anticipation as the series goes on. Baron Throw is clearly up to no good, and that seems like it’ll come to a head sooner rather than later. With Liam fully in the know about Throe’s relationship with his parents, this will definitely be personal to him.
An Issue of Character
The personification of the Black Hole that we get in Collapser #3 is honestly a damn delight. It encourages Liam to use all of the power it gives him, which is pretty cool when you remember that the Black Hole is kind of a manifestation of Liam’s anxiety. (This is definitely more true figuratively, as there’s definitely a plot reason for it to exist literally.) The idea of my anxiety coming to life and telling me to use it for my own benefit and that it makes me powerful is honestly pretty rad. It’s something I briefly spoke about with Way and Simon, and it was awesome to see it play out in the piece.
We see more of Joss and Tripp here, which is great. I want to see them exist a little more outside of Liam. This is especially true of Joss, as she seems like a particularly interesting character. I hope we see more of her in future issues, though her relationship with Liam may be in jeopardy.
I did have a couple small issues with character in Collapser #3, specifically with the women. To be completely fair, Simon and Way have introduced three very different women who are all present in this issue. None of them are prefect, which is just reality. The fact that Liam’s powerful manager is a women is spectacular. The fact that she’s pretty manipulative and definitely boosting his ego for her own benefit is not as spectacular. At the same time, she could be a very complex character that we haven’t gotten to know just yet. Also, not all female characters have to be good people to be interesting or worthwhile.
I think the root of the problem for me is that all of these women exist solely in relation to Liam or other men. (Yes, Liam is the person the book revolves around, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have women/secondary characters with a little more depth.) We have Liam’s girlfriend, his mom, and his manager. Joss’ only discernible qualities so far are that she sticks up for herself in her relationship (which I love) and her dad has cancer. Liam’s mom was the last host for the Black Hole, which means she was pretty damn powerful. However, she also was with Liam’s dad because she “felt lost” despite her career success and he “gave her direction.” I freaking love this book and these two writers, but that detail really suck out to me. It still does not sit right. Maybe it isn’t supposed to, but I felt the need to point it out.
Again, to be fair, this comic treats women much better than many other books out there today. There’s no question about it. At least there are women present, and they have some power! I just want to see a bit more of them, as I know Way and Simon are capable of giving them some real depth through the next three issues.
Liam Blows Up
I’m just going to say it. Liam becomes a damn jerk in Collapser #3. He falls into all the trappings of fame, and his manager, Vanessa Volt, definitely exacerbates the situation. It’s extremely entertaining to see what happens when someone who is constantly down on themselves gets a little success. It is one extreme to the other with Liam, and it’s honestly a little relatable. It’s certainly a cautionary tale, and it’ll make Baron Throe’s plans that much harder to thwart.
We know Liam’s true character, though. We’re reminded at the start of the issue when the Black Hole takes the form of Mr. Edgar. Liam has a big heart and cares about people. He’s just momentarily lost his way, and finding the balance between his power and his anxiety will set him free of all of this. He doesn’t have to be a completely different person, as he says, but just find the right version of himself. It’ll be a fun journey for us to read, I’m sure of it.
A Great Third Issue
The art is this issue is incredible. Ilias Kyriazis, Cris Peter, and Simon Bowland are a kickass team and I cannot get enough of their work. There is a lot Kyriazis does with perspective in this issue, and his character acting is stellar once again. The moment Joss sees Liam’s true colors is heartbreaking, and that’s all in her face. Speaking of colors, Peter shines in every issue, but she does get to do something different with the flashbacks here and it is very effective. It’s a great job all around.
The issue has heart, humor, intrigue, and conflicts both external and internal. Despite the small problems I may have found with Collapser #3, it continues the be one of the best series out there today.