Si Spurrier and Matías Bergara’s epic Step by Bloody Step #1 is coming out on February 23rd and it’s a book that’s made for everyone. Comic aficionados who have seen it all, lovers of fairy tales, young readers, and fans of comics as an art form will all find something here to enjoy. Every few years, a comic comes along that feels so different, new, and ingenious you consider whether the book is from the far future. This book has that and then some. There’s something going on with this book that elevates the storytelling, which largely starts with the art.
Step by Bloody Step has no dialogue or captions, with just a few words spoken and lettered in a language no human can read. It’s a visual feast that is told with care and detail. It’s not unlike the European style of comics storytelling, as it not only takes its time but puts extra effort in crafting a scene in every panel that’s rich and well worth lingering on.
The story is rather simplistic, which allows the wonderment, gorgeous art, and mystery of the story to really come alive. The book opens with an armored giant standing on a freezing mountaintop holding a naked child in its palm. The child begins to wake and the giant begins to make its way down the mountain. Soon they are attacked, and the giant fights them off with great violence and speed. As the story progresses, we see the two traverse different terrains, face colorful and inventive threats, and slowly see the child may have fantastical abilities of their own.
Through this setup, Bergara and Mat Lopes draw you into the mystery of these two characters with deep human moments and fantastical scenes straight out of your greatest fantasy imaginings. There are Seussian-looking settings, which create an added sense of wonderment and fun. These beautiful environments juxtapose well with the dangerous and sometimes grotesque enemies seeking to kill the iron giant and the child.
At this point, Lopes is a master at giving alien worlds life. Just look at his work on Ka-Zar or Supergirl and you’ll see what I mean. Or, pick up this book to see the richness he gives the tops of trees in a forest, the detail of water rushing down a beast, or subtle color kissing clouds in a double-page vista. Every scene feels alive no matter the subject in the panel.
Running with about 42 pages of content, there’s a lot here to enjoy as well. It’s true if a comic lacks dialogue or captions it’s a faster read, but given how rich the art is and how absorbed you’ll be with the character reactions it’s hard to not linger, or even reread the book more than once. It can also feel challenging without words describing what we see.
Beautiful environments, touching character moments between the child and iron giant, and inventive fauna design is one thing, but there’s also a deep and dark mystery worth exploring here too. It’s subtle since you’re never told, but always shown the story, and by the end, it’s clear the child has a very special purpose. There are dark things afoot in the world and this child matters quite a bit. There’s also a complexity between the child and the giant that is compelling and endearing.
Spurrier and Bergara have done an excellent job pacing this story as it draws you into the world around the characters, but also the deeper mystery. Step by Bloody Step #1 is a force; a story that’s eye-catching, intriguing, and endearing. It’s a mix of beautiful art, but also a challenge to conventional comics as we attempt to understand its subtly. Step by Bloody Step feels special as it blends wonderment, menace, and a story that’s timeless, like a new fairy tale that’ll be told for ages unfolding before our eyes.
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