After a lengthy effort to recover their work from a certain indie publisher, Doug Wood and Matt Battaglia have recently Kickstarted recently recovered comic, Leap M and released it to the world. But was it a leap of faith worth making?
Publisher: Doug Wood/Matt Battaglia Comics
Writer: Doug Wood
Artist: Matt Battaglia
Price: Available through www.mattjbattaglia.com
Leap M tells the story of Wilbur, a troubled former military veteran who wakes one night to discover a dead body in his bathroom. Arrested for the murder of this person despite his protests of innocence, Wilbur is sentenced to a radical new punishment where his body and mind are forced to accept his multi-year sentence in a matter of moments, causing him to age dramatically within that one day. Now free of his ‘incarceration’ and seeking justice for the loss of his life, Wilbur begins a search to find the real killer. However, will the answers he gets be enough to help him regain his life?
Doug Wood has created a poignant story with Leap M which, despite its science fiction ‘macguffin’, is ultimately a story about redemption and punishment. Wilbur is a damaged man, continuing to torment himself over his past action (or inaction) as he continues to punish himself while others do the same. However, the subtle implications as to why they all blame him practically jump off the page thanks to Wood’s story, as some do so out of various forms of guilt. Wood quite interestingly displays evidence of PTSD, depression as well as forms of outgoing and self-abuse through his cast which is heartbreaking to read while also being deeply engrossing. This also asks the question if any of these characters truly remember their shared past correctly or if the traumas that they individually go through have skewed memories in order to justify their feelings and actions.
However, while the character dynamics felt really strong in this comic, the plot appears to be its achilles heel. This is best evidence in the circumstances surrounding Wilbur’s arrest, where so many holes are left regarding the reveal of the real culprit, that it seems unrealistic that police would so willing to sentence Wilbur when his own investigation bore more fruit in a seemingly shorter space of time. That said, while it is a jarring quibble, it is not the main focus of Leap M, making it a forgivable and almost forgettable moment.
Meanwhile, Matt Battaglia’s artwork feels like it perfectly encapsulates both the dark grimy world that the cast inhabit but also the dark mental state they (almost) all appear to be trapped within. Battaglia’s work has a Ben Templesmith vibe to it which is most reminiscent of Ten Grand and Fell. Both the world and the characters have this ugliness to them which I felt was very much by design. Wilbur’s troubled mental state (as well as the others) almost feeds his environment in the same way those with depression may struggle to maintain a clean home (or similar). Much of this is further enhanced by the dark colours which Battaglia implements in order to maintain this troubled world, save for the final pages where he then unleashes for the final battle to contradict those dark tones and give those action scenes a very visceral and brutal feel.
Leap M is an enjoyable and worthwhile read. While it may have holes in its story and an art style which might not be for everyone’s taste, it gave me a wonderful insight into the pain of PTSD and mental health sufferers. For that reason it is definitely worth the time to read, because I’m sure glad I did.