Issue: Echoes #1
Release Date: December 2010
Author: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Rahsan Ekedal
Letters: Troy Peteri
Editors: Flip Sablik and Phil Smith
Cover: Rahsan Ekedal and Rob Schwager
Publisher: Top Cow Productions
The topic of mental illness is very hard to accurately depict, especially in a comic book. However, with the new Echoes series, I have to say that not only was the topic richly covered, but done so in a stunning way. Fialkov’s writing, coupled with Ekedal’s stark black and white artwork, invokes the perfect mood needed for this series.
The comic follows main character Brian Cohen, who has a wife and a baby on the way, but his life’s not easy. The first few pages illustrate the patchwork of his life. The reader jumps from future to past to present, round and round through time, just as Brian is doing in his own head. He’s inherited the issues of schizophrenia from his father and that may not be all he inherited either, as we learn on his father’s deathbed that the elder Cohen was a serial killer.
This revelation sends Brian on a journey through his father’s past and it may be enough to break him. His life is ruled by his illness, centering around a beeping watch to remind him when to take his medication. Even if that didn’t keep him on track, the constant badgering reminders from his wife just might. I wonder if the belittling attitude by Brian’s wife will play an ultimately negative role in the story’s development. The few images we see through Brian’s eyes are happy memories, but the phone call itself speaks to another type of person.
Brian tries to rationalize everything in his world, telling himself what is and is not real. It is an issue that he must constantly battle with, as he is prone to have hallucinations and delusions. The shadow in the corner may be just a shadow, but to Brian it may manifest itself into a figure he must fight against. Even his own mirror image can turn against him and taunt him towards actions he does not necessarily want to take.
I commend this storyline for tackling the issue of medicating the illness, but showing quite realistically that it’s not a quick-fix. Yes, the medicine controls the symptoms, but they do not go away entirely. As the doses wear off, Brian is prone to more and more negative effects. He must work to remind himself that what he’s seeing and hearing is a chemical reaction in his brain rather than what’s actually there. It’s a constant struggle for him and for those also dealing with this illness. This struggle will only be compounded when having to face what his father has done in his lifetime and what that may mean for Brian’s own future.
After seeing the trophies from his father’s murdering spree, Brian is in danger of having a mental breakdown. The elder Cohen was a sick, sick man who used bones, skin, and flesh of the children he murdered to make dolls as remembrances. Perhaps his illness was partially to blame for his behavior, but the question then becomes will the same thing happen to Brian? Will he succumb to the powers of his illness just as his father before him? Will he become a killer, too? And is his growing family in danger? Brian fights to keep control, but will he ultimately be the victor in this battle? I eagerly wait to find out!
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars