Friday, July 3, 2015

Review - The Spire #1


"...she's coming! She ain't normal!"

One of the best aspects of fiction is its ability to transport the reader to a new and strange world. Visiting those worlds stokes the imagination, while at the same time presenting tales filled with intriguing characters. The Spire #1 from BOOM! Studios presents a unique world with even more unique characters. The issue is written by Simon Spurrier, illustrated by Jeff Stokely, colored by André May and lettered by Steve Wands.

The Spire is a mountain of metal and stone that rises from the toxic Nowherelands; a city of twisting tunnels, grinding elevators, ancient machinery and over one million human and non-human residents. Shå, the only citizen of her species, is Commander of the Watch: responsible for keeping order despite the racist views of those around her. When a string of grisly murders occurs on the eve of the new Baroness’s coronation, Shå is tasked with bringing the killer to justice… and picking apart the wider mysteries tangled around the crime. But the city’s new ruler seems sets to usher in a more xenophobic age, and Shå swiftly finds she has far more than one enemy at her back.

The Spire #1 is a pretty familiar story with some very unique characters carrying the action. Spurrier's characterization of Shå is something of an outside private investigator, constantly contending with a simmering prejudice against her because of her heritage and abilities. The story radiates outward from her, placing her front and center for all the action, which includes the mysterious murders that are particularly grisly. Spurrier paces the story somewhat erratically, partially owing to the use of Shå as the lens through which the reader views the events of the issue. Despite the irregular pacing, there's a very clear plot being spelled out that will embroil Shå in events that even she may not want to be a part of.

There's an interesting mix of art styles in The Spire #1. Stokely blends together a sense of modern society with hints of Brian Froud to create characters who look both human and decidedly non-human. Stokeley gives all his characters plenty of expression and handles kinetic foot-races quite well. The panel backgrounds don't offer an excess of detail; rather, Stokely leaves the detail for the characters in the forefront. May's color palette is fairly bright throughout, save for a few scenes where darkness steps in and establishes a different mood entirely.

The Spire #1 is an interesting first issue that has a lot of ambition. Shå is pretty fascinating as a lead character and clearly has a backstory that will carry the entirety of the series, in terms of how she (and her history) relates to the events occurring around her. Spurrier's reliance on her as the protagonist gives the story an extra layer of weirdness in a positive way. Stokely's illustrations are grimy in some regards, ensuring the reader knows that the Nowherelands isn't exactly a cushy resort area you'd want to spend any extended amount of time at. The Spire #1 asks a lot of questions, the answers to which will help further embellish the strange world and characters within.

The Spire #1 is in stores now.








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