Matt Madden’s recent mini kuš! offering ‘Bridge’ began life as a 24-hour comic, with an added requirement that a decade would pass between each page. In some ways it’s perhaps a more traditional comic strip than might be expected from the often alternative kuš! comics range but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in narrative experimentation, particularly in regards to comics’ unique relationship between the passing of time and our between-the-panels comprehension.
Split into three chapters the story follows a trio of related generational characters across the years who are dedicated to discovering a mysterious bridge. Knowledge of the bridge is initially imparted to the first of the cast by a strange old woman in a dream-like encounter when he was a boy. The nature of this apparently metaphysical platform, its purpose and where it leads to seem indefinable. But for the threesome the quest to access it becomes the focus of their lives, to varying degrees of self-awareness about its potential success or futility…
On a surface level ‘Bridge’ is a neatly satisfying cyclical story that combines science fantasy with an intriguing sense of the oblique. But there’s much here to be taken from its pages on other levels. Questions of obsession, fatalism, determinism and free will abound. Are we in control of our own decisions or are we consigned to a pattern of behaviour by the events that shape us?
Madden’s art has an elegant accessibility, using a kind of stripped back realism for the main part but occasionally shifting into a weirder portrayal of the characters’ experiences as they attempt to crack the mystery of the bridge and their reality warps as a result. This solid, and as ever complete-in-one, mini kuš! issue is an excellent example of how to execute a minicomics narrative in terms of both pacing and structure. We will be continuing our look at the range throughout this week at Broken Frontier.
Matt Madden (W/A) • kuš! comics, $7.00
Review by Andy Oliver