‘The Displaced’ #2 explores the fallout of Oshawa’s disappearance tomorrow

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Published March 19, 2024 at 12:27 pm

'The Displaced' #2 cover variants by Luca Casalanguida (left) and Oshawa-born Ramon Perez (left). via Boom Studios.

The second issue of The Displaced, which follows the sudden disappearance of the entire city of Oshawa, is set to hit comic store shelves tomorrow.

The series is the brainchild of Oshawa-born writer Ed Brisson, who spent the first 14 years of his life in the city. Brisson later went on to live on both the East and West Coasts and now calls Halifax home.

Though he visits his hometown every couple of years, Brisson felt he grew disconnected from the city over time. A chance encounter with an old school friend some years ago sparked the idea for The Displaced.

“I could tell you everything about this guy and his family,” Brisson told indurham.com at a launch event at Oshawa’s Worlds Collide comic shop, ‘As I was telling him, he just stared back with this blank look.”

After this encounter, Brisson developed the series, which follows a handful of survivors after a sinkhole swallows up the entirety of the city and almost all of its 170,000 residents. The first kernel of the story came to Brisson 15 years ago and he wanted to make it his first major project.

However, American publishers would only commit to the concept if Brisson moved the story from Oshawa to a city in the United States. Brisson wanted to tell a story outside of the usual New York or West Coast settings and did not want to create a fictional city with less personality.

Portraying the personality and culture of Oshawa was vital to Brisson’s vision so he moved on to other projects for the next few years. He published numerous creator-owned works with Image (home of Spawn and Invincible) and went on to work at the Big Two publishers, Marvel and DC and series like Batman, the X-Men, Ghost RiderOld Man Logan, and the Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight.

After years in the industry, Brisson built up enough clout to write The Displaced the way he wanted. Partnering with Italian illustrator Luca Casalanguida, Brisson created a series which reflects the city. Brisson told insauga.com his scripts for Casalanguida were twice as long as usual due to the amount of reference material he sent.

The effort paid off. While Oshawa is swallowed up about halfway through the first issue, Lakeridge Health is namedropped early, neighbourhoods appear based on real homes, and a drugstore appears that looks suspiciously like a Shoppers Drug Mart. The town’s “Prepare to be Amazed” sign on the Whitby border even appears.

After years in the making, the series’ first issue dropped on Feb. 20 during a launch party at Oshawa’s Worlds Collide comic shop.

Spoilers for The Displaced #1 follow.

The first issue follows a trio of survivors who happened to be out of town one night. One is an old man, Harold, who knows about the coming disappearance and tries to block entry into the city. Another, Emmet, is a younger man out drinking in Ajax. The third, Gabby, is a young mother who heads to Whitby late at night on a diaper run.

When the trio crosses paths on the Whitby border, a colossal sinkhole opens up under Oshawa and swallows the city whole. In the wake of the vanishing, Harold explains many cities have disappeared this way. Ultimately, everyone forgets that they ever existed, though what’s behind this phenomenon remains unknown.

While the refugees of Oshawa hunker into a refugee centre over the following days, they come to grips with the losses of their homes and families. Their grief is interrupted by another great rumble as the gaping sinkhole seals itself back up. The Oshawa-Whitby border becomes the Whitby-Courtice border.

Harold concludes the issue by saying, “Oshawa didn’t vanish. Oshawa never existed.”

Where the series goes from here is anyone’s guess, but readers can learn more when The Displaced #2 drops on March 20. The only clue comes from a preview on Boom Studios’ website showing trusted friends forgetting Emmet and Gabby.

Brisson confirmed he’s got a total of five issues on the way, with room for more should the series succeed. It’s off to a good start as the first issue went into a second printing as soon as it launched.

Just as the first issue also offered variant covers by Canadian artists Richard Pace and Chip Zdarsky, the second features a variant by Oshawa’s own Ramon Perez. Coincidentally, this is the second series Zdarsky and Perez collaborated on after their own acclaimed work, Stillwater, about a town of immortals.

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