The Tessellation #1
These past few months I’ve found myself becoming more and more disenfranchised with the US mainstream comics market. I say mainstream and you’re probably thinking “me too, I’m tired of the whimsical bullshit that Marvel and DC patters on with every month.” While, this might be true but when I say mainstream I’m also talking about the awareness of comics in the popular mind.
Who or what is creating comics that are being snapped up in droves.
Few of those hordes of conditioned demagogues have the awareness that the US comics market is, quite simply, in a constant state of creative cannibalisation. With each small comics press company eagerly snooping around some fledgling creator’s take on an old story that reads, at best, like a covers band playing a DJ’s remix to an obscure B-sides album that you have never and will never give a fuck about. “Why doesn’t Hollywood release something new and original?” The hell with Hollywood, why doesn’t the comics industry do that? Why indeed.
Thankfully, when presented the opportunity to read a relatively new comic about time travel, I did what any good reviewer would do. I put it at the bottom of the pile and got on with my life. How wrong I was.
The Tessellation presents a story to us that opens a bloated can of worms, with the label on that can reading “time travel results may vary.” A label that is as unhelpful as the eventual ending of this first issue. With the turn of each page you get the feeling that the writer, Mike Phillips, feels the time travel theory can be as Grey as the cloud the protagonist’s aura constantly looks under.
The protagonist, a transparent and loser dad archetype, is offered the chance to relive different realities of his own life. Or variations of that life. What seems unclear throughout this entire issue is whether or not the shadowy organisation offering up this opportunity is, in fact, time travelling or just travelling to another reality. It’s a quandary that presents itself over and over, leading any reader to a drugged out stupor of LSD proportions. Minus the propensity for spreading love throughout the entire known universe.
What grounds you and the story is Phillips’ need to reinforce what is happening through his use of repetition across several panels. So that when change does occur in The Tessellation story it is met with the type of shock and awe usually reserved for a M Night Shyamalan trope heavy plot twist. Make no mistake: this is no easily digestible set of tangents that we’re taken on. Although, that itself is excused through the multiple layers of relationship crossroads, deaths in the family, toxic personality traits and the privilege of changing the diverging route of one’s own destiny. Oops. Sorry. “Spoilers.”
What helps the psychologically heavy dichotomous themes of choice and change is Hernan Gonzalez’s restraint. Artwork and linework that doesn’t steal from the scene and, instead, gives this reader pause to wonder how and what decisions he would make. What changes he would make. Although, damage to the space time continuum be damned, at least the privileged man can go back and relive his fantasies, right?
The Tessellation is a psychological mind fuck that takes us deep into the recesses of the what-if spectrum. It challenges you. It tests you not only on the level of whether you want to hate the main character but on the level of would you make the decisions he would make? Would you feel how he would feel? Would you make damage to his world and his dimension no matter the cost?
The Tessellation is an intellectual spanking of Westworld by way of Sliders without the goofy looking “slide” portals. Whilst occupying a similar entertainment space of Star Trek: TOS’ episode “Shore Leave.” If the point here is to make me hate the main character and all the decisions he makes then mission accomplished. Maybe his wife should’ve left him first chance she got…
The Tessellation hits the pause and skip track buttons on reality wherever it wants to. How it hasn’t been picked up by any publisher goes on to reinforce my original comments. The comics industry is cooked. Pick up this mindfuck of a book.