Meta4 #5

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
Listen -- this comic isn’t like most other comics. It’s special. It’s unique. It’s baffling and fascinating, and the art is both oddly repulsive and compulsively beautiful. It tells a non-linear story in a non-linear manner with multiple disparate threads flowing through the story that serve to fascinate, elucidate and confuse all in the same breath.

This comic isn’t like most comics. It’s a Ted McKeever comic.

If you’ve become indoctrinated into the world of a Ted McKeever comic, if you’ve lost yourself in the world of angels and devils in Metropol, say, or the painfully moving 2000 Vertigo mini Faith or even the funhouse mirror world of Superman’s Metropolis, you know what I mean.

A Ted McKeever comic is one in which issues like beauty and faith and love and reality all seem to be ephemeral concepts, exploring ideas -- real ideas, not just comic book ideas -- and shaking you up a bit.

A Ted McKeever comic has an aftertaste, like a good single malt scotch. It lingers on the brain, wandering in and out of your synapses, haunting them with ideas and unforgettable images. In Meta4 that world is rendered in an intense black and white filled with penetratingly tight images that burn into your mind. As one character says in this issue when referring to the angelic Gasolina (but which could also be referring to McKeever’s work), “she’s attempting to induce comfort in me by way of non-verbal dispatch”

As you might guess from its title, Meta4 is a comic that works on a symbolic or metaphorical level rather than a traditional story level. I’m sure there is a story underneath all the symbolism and non-linear storytelling. The story seems to be about an astronaut suffering a major bout of existential doubt, perhaps on the eve of his death. But the story isn’t the important thing here. This isn’t a comic where much of anything is on the surface. This is a comic that works in a different part of your brain than most comics. It works on the side that doesn’t process thoughts in a linear manner. It works on a very different level.

And that, for me, is the genius of a comic like Meta4. It’s a comic that succeeds brilliantly at presenting a whole different way of looking at a story and at the printed comic page. It aspires to present material in a different way than most comics, and is a wild success at that. Every moment in the book is subject to the reader’s interpretation, which only serves to deepen the artfulness of the story presented.

As the main character says on the penultimate page of this comic, “All human stories are subject to interpretation regardless of intent.” McKeever presents a story fully, almost generously, open for interpretation. It’s thoughtful, intense and sincere, and possesses some of the most beautifully repulsive art ever published in an American comic. You may not want to start this series with issue #5, but I guarantee that the collected edition of Meta4 will be one of the most highly-acclaimed graphic novels of 2011.

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