Bodies #1 & 2 (of 8)
Story: Si Spencer
Art: Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tual Lotay, Phil Winslade
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Dezi Sienty and Taylor Esposito
When it comes to comics, my taste can charitably referred to as “varied”. I will admit that I was drawn to the cover first (a lovely piece of gory pin-up art by Fiona Stephenson) and then to the solicit later. It checked all of the mental boxes that I have a soft spot for when it comes to miniseries (multiple artists, a mystery or two, murder, almost too many time periods). I just knew that Bodies wasn’t going to be a book I wanted to miss.
First issues can always be a little rough, especially when they’re building a new world from scratch. Much like pilots of new television shows, they’ve got hook the audience and set up what’s to come, often having their own little mini-arc as they introduce the focal characters. All too frequently first issues come off a little rushed and sloppy. When a first issue doesn’t have some serious kinks to work out, I almost become a bit wary, ready for the series to rapidly derail and destroy my hopes.
Bodies jumps right into the storytelling fray. It catches you off-guard, leaving the audience scrambling to catch up. The boldness of the storytelling is impressive, taking no prisoners which is exactly how a short-run series should approach. There’s no time to waste easing your audience into what’s going to happen. Better to explain as we move along.
Spanning four distinct time periods (2014, 1890, 2050, 1940) and with it four distinct art styles, the book is a collection of well-crafted visual cues that start to connect the dots even as you slip from 2014 to 1890 (the first time jump). The connections continue from there, with the bodies crossing paths with our detectives in the same location and same apparent cause of death, decades apart. Each detective feels separate and unique, their worlds lived in and fleshed out even if we meet each of them in the middle of their lives. This is just another case to them, each approaching their particular corpse in a way that fits their “brand” of detective work. It’s up to the audience to start to piece together the similarities that the detectives can’t. And honestly, it kind of makes it more of a fun read.
If issue one is the four variations on a single set-up, with the final scene leaving us with a cliffhanger, then issue two is layers on it. Second issues are equally difficult (if not more so) to first outings, trying to pushing forward what they started as well as keep everyone informed. The timelines are jumbled a bit further, with another untouched point in time mentioned in the news reports that seems like it could tie in.
The second issues confirms what I suspected to be true: this is a series for those love murder mysteries. It’s not a straight forward who-or-why done it, but it has enough of those familiar tropes in play to make it interesting. I want to roll around in the worlds that we’re being shown (especially London of 2050 — an entire future where everyone’s forgotten everything? Sign me up!). Right now I’m keeping my guesses as to how everything ties together mostly to myself in this post, but part of me hopes I’m wrong. I don’t want this to be an easy case to crack, but even if it is the diverse visual storytelling and the one narrative voice make it worth the read.
I should warn that it’s not a book for those who are averse to graphic violence, especially when that aftermath of that violence is handled in a pretty realistic matter. This isn’t a book where the some gets the crap kicked out of them, only to rebound three pages later. When someone goes down, they’re down.
Bodies is definitely worth checking out, though those who are a fan of mysteries and/or uses of different art styles to tell the story in a single book might find more to love. No matter what, I’ll be checking out what comes next. Let the speculation begin!
Bodies #3 will be available from Vertigo comics on 9/24.