What is truth? We hold a lot of truths close to ourselves every day... things that seem so immutable and rote that we hardly question their existence. The truth is that the sun will rise each morning... but it doesn't, not really. The world we live on spins, rotating the tiny portion of the face we cling to into the light of a star like so many others. It is only from our limited perspective that we have termed the "sunrise" to be something not utterly laughable from an outside observer. Our truth is quite literally perpendicular to reality, and yet it is fundamentally how we, as a species, experience it. So, which is the truth? How can we know a truth that cannot change with a shift in perspective? Any argument you've had in the last year (and let's be honest, there have been so many) is likely the interpretation of the same facts from possibly wildly different perspectives, different ways of seeing "truth." It's what caused the Crusades, powered the World Wars, and continues to propagate nuclear weapons across the globe. This place is called a schism.
Andrew Adams and Rachel Briner have created a work which lives in that flux, that place trapped between perspectives, like watching a 3D film without the glasses on. Every character, every cause, creed, religion and tenet of morality is called into question at one point or another, aside from the horrific world in which the tale takes place. It's the most unsettling thing going in this series. The finale pushes this shearing to the extreme, finding a place where everything you've known throughout the previous five issues becomes new again. After finishing this issue, I honestly had to go back through every issue again to help me make sense of it. Not that anything's unclear; it's just such a large thought to wrap your head around that it takes the whole tale to tell it properly. This is a story that is much larger than the pieces that build it, and the dedication to the themes and struggles within is quite remarkable. I like when I can't anticipate the ending of any work, and this one had me guessing until the final frame.
Rachel Briner's artwork allows the story to fly where it will. She's patient and ready to horrify you wherever you may roam. The brutality and evil is so casually laid in by her deft work that you're still admiring the extraordinary effort when you come to realize that your mind has fled gibbering into the dark. This world epitomizes Lovecraftian horror and would make George R.R. Martin giggle with sadistic glee. You'll never be able to look away until you're able to process what you're seeing, and then only grudgingly as you seek more of the torment.
Schismatic is a rare effort that allows every character to be gracefully dynamic. No one's journey ends in the place they'd hoped, and no one remains the version of themselves that they began as. This is a work that comes from a deep place emotionally and intellectually, and certainly has the ability to bring you into it. The writing is crisp, clean, and human, and the visuals are a beautiful prison for the eye. The finish matches the promise that the series has maintained throughout, and it makes it one of the best I've had the pleasure of reading in a good while.
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