Come Into Me #1
Written by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson
Art by Piotr Kowalski and Niko Guardia
Lettering by Ryan Ferrier
Published by Black Mask Studios
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Before Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson take over a major superhero, they aim to kick you right the hell out with the debut of Come Into Me. Much like their last effort from Black Mask Studios, The Dregs, Nadler and Thompson graft high concepts and specific genres onto very real, skin-crawling human fears with a story about a controversial new medical procedure that allows humans to essentially share the same host body. Given a sketchy and dissociated look by Piotr Kowalski and the sickly colors of Niko Guardia, Come Into Me #1 is a nightmare for the modern age that’s a little bit David Cronenberg and a little bit Paul Thomas Anderson.
It’s been six months since a horrific accident set back his clinical trials, but Sebastian Quinn is still determined to make the process of inBeing work. By linking two people via a truly unsettling bio-computer, Sebastian posits that the very soul of a person can be shared, transferred, and even stored in a single host body. But the money is drying up, there is a competitor emerging in the market, and worst of all, the process still hasn’t been perfected. Enter Becky, a mysterious new investor who strong-arms her way into experiencing the process, with Sebastian as her host.
Much like The Dregs, Nadler and Thompson build a solid, lived-in world through throwaway lines and sly bits of business throughout their script, but the real star in this debut is their truly unsettling and narratively rich core concept. Along with the glitchy, dream-like artwork of Piotr Kowalski and Niko Guardia, the team draw you into their sordid world even before you realize they have.
Even before Becky and Sebastian go through the process, which is by far this debut’s standout scene, Nadler and Thompson are constantly deploying little contextual landmines, giving readers details about Sebastian’s business, the tech behind the new Cronenbergian technique, and the dire straits inBeing has now found themselves in. In high-concept books, writers usually tangle themselves up, muddying their themes or just outright confusing their audiences. Thankfully, Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler guide their readers through well-worded dialogue, instead of running them through too much information at once.
But while Nadler and Thompson’s world-building is as strong as ever, Come Into Me’s real show-stopping moment comes at the hands of Piotr Kowalski and Niko Guardia. After agreeing to take her money and serve as her host, Becky and Sebastian undergo the process and suddenly we enter a whole new world. Starting with a watercolor-inspired widescreen panel of the two’s memories and experiences intermingling, the team chucks us headlong into the inBeing experience and in doing so, take the opportunity to literally flip the script.
As Becky and Sebastian move further into themselves, the team shifts the perspective of the issue, laying out pages vertically instead of horizontally, giving these scenes a wildly inventive point of view, but also adding a deftly unsettling touch as the two move further and further through Sebastian's memories. Couple that with the surreal and often affecting nature of the way Piotr Kowalski and Niko Guardia depict these memories, and you have a debut that not only commits to its own premise, but its own unconventional way of presenting said premise.
“Cronenbergian” is an adjective that gets thrown around a lot in comic books. If a book has even a touch of psychosexual undertones or a bit of body horror, we are quick to slap the label on it just to let people known we’ve seen Videodrome once or twice. But unlike those books, Come Into Me #1 truly nails the gets-under-your-skin vibe of the auteur’s filmography and then stylishly pours it onto the pages of a comic, reveling in the dread, obsession, and character building that other books tend to ignore. The best kind of horror holds a mirror up to the world that it inhabits, and Come Into Me #1 holds that mirror uncomfortably close, and never once allows us to look away.