I decided to wait until all three issues in this mini-series were published so I could read them consecutively, and I’m glad I did. Sometimes I forget some of the details from the earlier installments in a serialized arc.
This story is about the struggle between the conscious mind and the primordial shadow part of the psyche. The main character, Brian Newman, finds himself in a struggle with a manifestation of his shadow self, who he calls the “big winner.” The big winner is the opposite of Newman, who is timid, uncertain, and withdrawn. Big winner is more like the trickster archetype: capricious, boisterous, and prone to the chaotic. As the big winner begins to take control of his reality, Newman agrees to undergo experimental surgery to gain control of this darker self. As you can imagine, things do not end well.
Before the surgery, the doctor explains to Newman that the manifestation of his shadow self is the result of a brain abnormality.
The anomaly in your brain is connected to an overdeveloped amygdala, a more primitive part of your mind. The part of you that can distort reality – this big winner – is undoubtedly very id like. Impulsive. Childish. A sort of negative image of yourself.
The surgery does not go as planned, and instead of reigning in the shadow self, that darker aspect of reality becomes the prevalent reality. What is so fascinating about this concept is that, truthfully, our reality is based solely on perception that is agreed upon by the majority of people. But this begs the question: what happens when the paradigm of reality shifts? And this is what occurs in issue 4.
Here we encounter two kids who are constantly wired into their devices. They are obsessed with a sort of virtual reality app that allows them to control the “windows” through which they view their world. What they create through the app manifests in reality, and their darkest fantasies are manifest. What is eerily accurate about this portrayal is that virtual reality gaming can actually tap into the primordial center of the brain, the amygdala. Is it possible that virtual reality will one day alter our actual reality? It’s a thought-provoking question.
Because the darkside becomes a part of them. It waits for them when they close their eyes, when they sleep… if they ever sleep again. Just below the surface of what they think is real… the darkside is always waiting.
Anyway, this arc is a great read. The writing and artwork are outstanding, and the concepts are challenging and relevant to our world today. I highly recommend giving this series a read.
10 responses to ““Tales from the Darkside” Issues 2 – 4: Manifestations of the Shadow Self”
Hi Jeff! Now that I work in a library, I can see how popular stories like this are. Is this a graphic novel?
Well, right now, it is still being released in serialized comic format, but I suspect it may get compiled into a graphic novel at some point. Speaking of graphic novels, have you read Persepolis? Amazing!! Look for it at the library you work at. I HIGHLY recommend it.
Okay I’ll check it out – happy weekend!
And hope you are away from the hurricane!
Oh yeah, I’m far from the coast. Hope you are safe too.
Yeah we are good!
Yeah, but I still plan on trying out VR at some point.
If I am in a position to, I probably will to. No enthusiasts in the house at the moment!
will too (I’m using an unfamiliar keyboard… typing is atrocious!)