Review – Crashing #1 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Matthew Klein
Artist: Morgan Beem
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 21st September 2022

Crashing, the latest offering from IDW Publishing’s new ‘IDW Original’ initiative, feels at first glance like it should be a quirky, action-packed story about superhero healthcare. In reality however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This first issue introduces us to Rose, a Cardiologist battling to keep her vices at bay while carrying out one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. She’s fascinatingly flawed, and her single-minded determination to save lives – regardless of whether her patient is “powered” or not – makes her a bonafide hero in her own right. She also has a dark secret that runs far deeper than her personal addictions… but we’ll get to that later.

When I spoke to series creators Matthew Klein and Morgan Beem back in July about Crashing, one of the recurring themes they kept mentioning was forgiveness, and having been able to get my hands on the first issue for myself, I can definitely see that playing out here. As I mentioned, Rose is an addict, and as with most addicts, lying and manipulation has become pretty much second nature to her, both in and out of the workplace.  For all her virtues, she has clearly hurt a lot of people, and the more layers of her we see peeled away throughout the course of the issue, the more interesting she becomes.

Beem’s artwork feels like it would be a little jarring for a straight-up superhero comic, but fits the tone and premise of this series like a glove.  Avoiding unnecessary detail in favour of a scratchy, expressive aesthetic, Beem – alongside colourist Triona Farrell and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – brings Rose’s story to the page with a real flair.  Everything here feels intentionally ragged and chaotic, from Otsmane-Elhaou’s depiction of Rose’s handwritten internal monologue to Farrell’s muted, almost bleak colour palette.

There’s also a neat subplot about superhero registration and accountability which juxtaposes the main thread beautifully, particularly when you consider the fact that Rose’s husband Don is heading up the push for a new legislation that will restrict the rights of “powered” people, including access to healthcare, unless they register themselves – something that will most certainly impact Rose’s day-to-day life as the series unfolds.

Also, as I mentioned above, Klein and Beem throw in something of a curveball near the end of the issue, heaping yet more pressure onto our protagonist’s already overloaded shoulders in the form of one massive secret she is keeping from everyone, culminating in a powerful final page sting that will leave readers scrambling to pick up issue two when it goes on sale next month.

This isn’t what you might think it is, and in this case, that’s definitely a good thing. Klein and Beem deliver a wonderfully nuanced look at the complex nature of addiction, set in a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life, which was not necessarily what I was expecting when I first picked this comic up.  A high-concept ‘heroes and villains’ drama grounded in a gripping personal struggle, this is a series that comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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