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Swan Song #5 – The Depth of Self-Discovery

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Credit: Image Comics

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince

Art & Main Cover: Alex Eckman-Lawn

Letters and Design: Good Old Neon 

publisher: IMAGE COMICS

Where does unhappiness come from? Certainly, life provides plenty of reasons to be unhappy, but what beyond those external reasons?

What about those individuals who simply cannot find joy in anything, including what most of society would consider pleasant parts of everyday existence?

Well in Swan Songs #5 W. Maxwell Prince and Alex Eckman-Lawn literally and figuratively dive deep into one individual to discover what has made him the person he is today. 

For those who have not previously read Swang Songs, each issue is its own individual story. Instead of a narrative connection, there is a thematic one, and as the title suggests that theme has been on how things end.

For this issue, we see how things end by returning to the beginning. Albert undergoes a process called soft induction, which is type of hypnosis where he enters a type of dream-like state. 

Each issue has had a different artist and this time it is Alex Eckman-Lawn. Part of the fun if this series and trying to determine why this artist is for this issue. I cannot say for sure but he does do a number of experimental things with this issue. Almost seems like he is doing multimedia design with a few pages. I wonder if he cut out pieces of paper and magazines and placed them on top of one another with some of the unique creatures we see. I cannot tell if it was done physically or digitally which makes it impressive either way. A big part of why this issue works as well as it does is the wondering about what he will do next. 

Credit: Image Comics

Not only do the aesthetics work it is vital for this narrative. The story here is perhaps the simplest of the series thus far. We are simply traversing the subconscious of Albert as he looks within himself and his suppressed memories.

Eckman-Lawn’s choices give these pages depth upon depth so it feels like you are traversing through multiple dimensions panel to panel and page to page.

Every individual unit is unique onto itself. Giving you the sense these are pieces of Albert that are forming perhaps for the first time. 

To be honest I usually do not like stories like this. I tend to have an emotional disconnect when everything that you are seeing is not real, because why should I invest in something that is just pure randomness?

Here it is different because despite the location not being a physical place it is getting to something that is very real. All of which is set up rather well in the opening discussion.

Right away we know the type of person Albert is and why this exercise is important.

At first, Albert is as unlikeable as you can get. The type of person that would cause and entire room to drop their head in disappointment if he were to enter. Someone who is miserable just to be miserable.

As we go on this journey with him that misery starts to find its ownership. Maybe, there is more to him than he even realizes. For a character to have that type of journey when the story takes place entirely in his head is quite the feat. 

Considering how this narrative is designed, and the entire point of this series a lot hinges upon the ending. Does it make that journey worth the climb?

Without spoiling it, at first, it left me feeling a bit hollow. Perhaps I was expecting something a bit cleaner than what they wanted to give me. It could also be my inability to see something that is clearly there. I do get the sense this is a type of issue that gets better the more times you read it. Still, that was my experience, but the beauty of art is that we can experience it differently.  

Score: 4.5 / 5

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comicconcierge
comicconcierge
A fan of all things comics and believer in, "Comic are for Everyone, the Key is Finding the Right One". I hope to help in that search which is why I dawned the moniker Comic Concierge. Find most of my stuff on TikTok.

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