THE COUCH #1 by David Byrne and Matt Magill
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
THE COUCH #1 by writer David Byrne and artist Matt Magill starts our adventure into the minds of superheroes. The story is something that is not often explored, giving us a new and refreshing perspective on superheroes. Although the art is not my favorite, it does give us a world that is easily relatable and visually interesting. This is definitely a story you're going to want to check out.
90 %
A Comfy Place to Sit

Have you ever read a superhero comic and wondered, “Would things be different if this person had psychological help?” (Lookin’ at you, Batman). Luckily, THE COUCH #1 by writer David Byrne and artist Matt Magill delves deep into this idea. Centered around Warren Lee, a down on his luck psychiatrist, Byrne and Magill give us a story that explores the psychology of superheroes directly from the superheroes themselves. This gives us an opportunity to see how the minds of these heroes function. This sponsored review will show you how Byrne and Magill manage to give us the insight to superheroes that we never knew we needed.

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The Story

THE COUCH #1 begins with Warren Lee, a psychiatrist who seems to be down on his luck. He was asleep on his office couch when Jaz Rodriguez, his girlfriend and secretary, comes to work. Unfortunately, she wasn’t supposed to be coming in. Warren nudges Jazz to look at her email, heavily implying she needs to check it more often. Evidently, he had written her the day before, letting her know she was no longer employed there. Jaz leaves the office in a fluster, throwing vases and destroying the office in the process.

Shortly after, his first patient arrives. Warren has had such a hard time, his first is also his only patient. Jong-ho Kim (or Johnny) has a number of disorders, which Warren gives us a good idea of. However, Warren’s luck is soon to change. During this visit, he has unexpected (and unwelcomed) visitors. A superhero and a burglar crash into his office in the exact destructive manner you would imagine.

This is the only time within the first issue we encounter a superhero. In THE COUCH #1, we don’t actually get to see Warren having a session with a superhero. I was really excited to see how superheroes think and what type of psychological disorders they may have. However, I know I am just impatient. I would have loved to have seen more interactions between Warren and superheroes, but I know this is just the start. As they say, the best is yet to come.

The Couch #1
Image Courtesy of W.i.N. Pictures

The Characters

One of my favorite aspects of this comic is the type and amount of characters that Byrne provides. He gives us a cast that is all over the spectrum, creating a well-rounded world to which any reader can relate. Byrne does this by using key panels to depict how a character perceives and interact with their world.

A prime example of this is when we watch Warren and Johnny interact. Warren has previously given Johnny exercises to combat his OCD. Warren has asked Johnny to pick a trigger. In this particular case, it was disorganized papers. Johnny says he sets papers down and walked away, letting the mess just sit. However, the panels give us a completely different perspective. As Johnny narrates how successful he’s been, the panels show Johnny straightening out all the papers on his bed, which contradicts everything he is telling Warren.

This contradicting panel sequence gives readers a perspective of how badly this disorder has Johnny. Either he has an inability to recognize that he has a problem or just does not want to admit that he was unsuccessful. Either way, it gives us an idea of how serious Warren’s patients are and how these mental disorders have a strong grip on his patients.

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Looks Like a Comfy Couch

Although the art may not be to my taste, Magill shows extreme care in how his characters are rendered. He gives us characters that are diverse mentally, but also physically. This gives us characters that feel real, flawed, and relatable.

When Warren is working with Johnny, there is a moment where Johnny depicts his insecurities about his job. He doesn’t trust his coworkers, feeling that they are all just after him in some way. Magill depicts Johnny’s anxiety with facial expressions. In one panel, Johnny’s coworkers seem like regular, everyday office coworkers. However, after a prank-like incident, his coworkers are no longer seen as friendly. They’re given red eyes and long teeth, which articulates how uncomfortable Johnny truly is with them. These moments give us insight not just to who Johnny is, but how Johnny sees the world around him. Magill’s art gives us a strong and deep understanding of how these characters interact with their world.

The Couch #1
Image courtesy of W.i.N. Pictures

Overall Thoughts on THE COUCH #1

The story is off to an interesting start. Although we don’t get to see as much superhero thought processes as I would like, the story is building up towards that direction. I mean, it’s hard to provide an interesting world without providing the building blocks. The cast of characters is absolutely fascinating and diverse, giving us a relatable world. Warren’s story is far from over, and it is going to be intriguing to see where it goes. The human mind is a complicated and fascinating place, I can only imagine what superheroes are thinking.

For more on THE COUCH and other works by David Byrne, check out his website here.

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