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Polarity was a book ahead of its time in regards to mental health. Here, our own Davis McCondichie explains why Polarity should still be required reading for every comics fan in his look back at the book by Max Bemis.
Required Reading: Looking Back At Polarity
In the midst of all these fantastic new series coming out from both DC and Marvel, occasionally it is refreshing to look deep into the bins to find some series forgotten in time.
One clear-cut example of a underappreciated bin find is the four issue series Polarity, which first hit stores on December 10, 2013, and has seen critical success since then. The superhero short story was the début title for Say Anything frontman, Max Bemis.
Polarity centres around Brooklyn artist Tim Cook and focuses on his struggles overcoming manic depression. The story begins with Cook walking out of his apartment in nothing but his underwear. He then walks out to the street and gets hit by a car. From here the reader learns that Cook is bipolar and has since become an artist is the hipster-ridden city of Brooklyn. Cook hates the lifestyle he is currently living and finds that his medication causes him to feel disconnected and out-of-place.
In hopes of becoming inspired to paint, Cook goes without his medication for a while. He then begins to hear voices. The manic, paranoid artist becomes convinced he is being spied on, so he goes to track the sounds he is hearing. Cook finds a man monitoring him in the building across the way, and head butts the “spy”. However, Cook accidentally busts the man’s head open spilling his brains everywhere.
From here the viewer learns that Cook has super powers. They come out when he loses stability of his mind. His therapist, Dr. Mays, explains these things to him and confirms that the man was spying on Cook. Mays hired the agent to keep track of Cook’s mania. Now acutely aware of his powers, Cook goes on a one-man mission to improve his city by exposing the hypocrisy in hipster culture.
All of this is just the tip of this story’s iceberg. Cook also has a love interest in a girl named Lily and a best friend named Adam. Both of them play important roles developing the plot and Cook’s opinion of his powers. The story has a multitude of wrinkles and for the sake of surprise none of that will be covered more in-depth.
That being said, overall Polarity is a stunning début for an artist better known for his songs. Bemis confronts bipolar tendencies in a way that humanizes it and makes it comprehensible. Those unfamiliar with mental disorders and how depression can affect a person will learn a lot from this comic book series. The story intertwines humor and action in a witty way. Readers will never feel burdened by the pace of the story and the message never becomes muddled by over complicated plot lines. Polarity is simple. The story focuses on characters wish to be comfortable in his skin, and it sticks to that idea soundly. Those with live life with a mental disorder will be comforted by the inspiring message. Heck, those who feel different will love the message Bemis offers.
On top of this tight wound story, Jorge Coelho, and Felipe Sobreiro supplies the comic with impactful illustrations. The art design is straightforward and conservative, yet is also memorable. There is a distinction to the color palette that will leave the viewer enjoying every panel. The comic is not pure eye candy, but it is enjoyable. To top of the comics design, each issue had a multitude of covers that need to be seen to comprehend their significant aspects.
So with these things in mind, dig through the bins of your local comic book store. Polarity and other forgotten comic book series deserve some attention too. Especially considering how well done a story Polarity is. Readers will not lose interest in this compelling story about a sci-fi benefit to being bipolar.
What do you think about Polarity?
Should it really be required reading for any comics fan?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Our Davis McCondichie is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @McMccondichie
Polarity is a witty, inverted take on the superhero genre. The story has a great message about understanding depression, and bipolar disorder. Though the series itself is old, comic book fans need to know about Polarity.