How enjoyable is Mad Men if you never leave Don Draper’s side and have to hear about how torn up he is over cheating on his wife? Would Vertigo be a different movie if it started with James Stewart’s Scottie pushing a woman to dress up like another woman who’s dead?
If there’s one thing to be said for Tumult’s Adam, he doesn’t pretend his behavior’s OK. Instead of letting things get worse, so he can hit rock bottom, Adam cuts to the chase. For a while his dream’s been to direct a film and he’s finally offered a script, but he’s in no condition to take it. Instead of driving the project into the ground, Adam tells the truth and lets it go to someone else.
A demonstration of self-awareness. How noble, and maybe it would carry more weight if the women blindsided by his out-of-character choices this story had a voice, but being stuck with Adam’s voice – acknowledging his wrongdoing and then doing it anyway – is a test in endurance at the start of Tumult. He hurts these people in his life and they disappear from the narrative, without a chance to air their grievances. Call it anti-hero fatigue. Writer, John Harris Dunning, and artist, Michael Kennedy, deliver phenomenal work in service of this story but getting to enjoy it comes after Adam stops being the sole storyteller and his thirty-year-old crisis is subsumed by a mystery plot.
Morgan is a woman Adam meets at a party and he can’t stop thinking about her. A name that has its origins in Arthurian legend, Adam spots another woman on the street who could be Morgan’s double. but she claims her name is Leila. It’s essentially Vertigo without the Hitchcock blonde but ends up being this mishmosh of other pop culture ideas, too, from Dollhouse, to River on Firefly, to Norman on Bates Motel. Leila reveals she’s a “multiple.” That means she has dissociative identity disorder, and Morgan’s been M.I.A. for years. Leila and her other identities are worried she might be up to something. There’s also a government conspiracy and people from Leila’s past who are ending up dead.
Kennedy’s faces are reminiscent of Lichtenstein while his colors are like Twix yogurt combinations, for that punchy, noir look. This isn’t life as usual for Adam, and Kennedy’s colors bring a serious strangeness to everything that’s going on and the kind of emotion, when Adam panics, that Vertigo did when conveying Scottie’s fear of heights.
A tarot card reading predicts (or give Adam an excuse?) to throw in the towel, while sunglasses make people look alien, when you see their reflections in the lenses. In a move straight out of the Lion King, Adam’s metaphoric fall is represented by a painted-nailed foot stepping on his hand and the disappearance and reappearance of a “Satan” shirt gives Adam agency in his choices. Maybe there’s a Tumult where the “Satan” shirt never returned, and maybe there’s an argument for leaning into drastic life choices.
A beach read that begins at the beach, Adam is a better character without his backstory but then Leila is the reason to start this book, as Tumult poses questions about her past and concerns for her future.
Tumult goes on sale September 4th from SelfMadeHero.