Matthew Klein – writer
Morgan Beem – artist
Triona Farrell – colorist
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – letterer
IDW / $3.99
Dr Rose Osler is a cardiologist and a damned good cardiologist at that. Often pulling 16 hour shifts and so fully dedicated to the Hippocratic oath that she’s at odds with the Mass General’s policy prohibiting any treatment to superpowered individuals that she’s willing to risk her career. That’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg in this fascinating character study of a woman truly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Apologies to the creative team because this is not a black comedy like the 1988 Almodovar film
Crashing opens at a whirlwind pace with Osler rushing to a chaotic emergency department full of injured people in the aftermath of a fight at the statehouse between heroes and one very nasty villain named Gordian. Her day only gets worse from this point forward because Matthew Klein is determined to test and possibly push her beyond her limits as a doctor, a colleague, a wife, and as a person whose past is complicated by years of drug use and addiction. On one hand Klein characterizes Osler as being an admirable person for her dedication to her professional oath — and she is — while on the other hand he revels in showing just how deeply flawed and fragile she is trying to maintain control, even by deceit, and stay sober while dealing with the consequences of a tragic event ten years in her past.
The idea hinted at by Klein with the hospital policy to not treat powered people in this fictional setting I think makes for an interesting parallel with conservative politicians and right wing individuals’ beliefs and efforts to deny healthcare and equal opportunities and access to trans people and others in the LGBTQA community at large. Klein expands on the sentiment expressed in the hospital’s code through Osler’s husband Don, a local politician who supports the Powered Registration Act that would require training for and accountability from superpowered individuals. Through a speech on television playing in the background of several panels Klein informs the reader that other lawmakers oppose the principles of the Powered Registration Act, citing “Society has always feared the different. The path out of fear…[is] built by an embrace.” Note too the protest signs on the cover, especially the “God Hates Powers” one.
Klein’s effort at unraveling Osler is illustrated by Morgan Beem whose art has a jagged, nervous quality which she uses to great effect showing the energy of a chaotic emergency room, Rose running on adrenaline, and the degrees of tension filling the rest of her day. Shifting perspective, tilted angles, exaggerated depths and closeups evoke feelings of connection and disconnection between Rose, her surroundings, and other people she interacts with. From the hospital green seen throughout the first part of the story to its menacing darker hue in the last scene, Triona Farrel’s coloring complements both Beem’s line art and the tone of Klein’s script. Note the white background of the cover. Farrell uses white as a background element on several specific interior pages and panels to reflect Osler’s psychological and physiological states. I’m uncertain if the choice is purely artistic or if it’s symbolic of a “white out” that can be experienced when a high person’s skin becomes pale after a fainting or vomiting episode. Credit Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou for his lettering choices to impart tone and urgency and the text boxes imitating spiral bound note pad
Klein and Beem’s examination of Rose Osler over the course of one truly terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad day makes for compelling reading and the prospect of what other challenges they’ll put her through as the story unfolds has me very curious to read!
Crashing is available now from comic shops and Comixology.