Review: The Spire #1

Spire_001_A_MainThe heroine of The Spire is a shape-shifting lesbian with an eyepatch. If this alone is enough to make you want to buy the first issue of BOOM! Studios‘ new limited series, then by all means, stop reading this review and follow your instincts.

In case you’re not convinced yet – and really, you should be, because she also has spiky platinum hair and a cloak that flutters behind her even when there’s no breeze – I’ll put it another way. The Spire is one of the freshest recent takes on urban fantasy I’ve seen in any medium, delightfully weird but grounded in the language and problems of the real world. It’s like a Discworld novel played straight, with a cast of grotesque creatures going about mundane lives and sight gags that range from darkly funny to just unsettling.

Simon Spurrier‘s narrative shifts among several connected threads, at a pace that in less capable hands might become confusing. But artist Jeff Stokely adjusts the visual style and coloring just enough to orient the reader in each new scene and point of view. He often uses the cinematic trick of a large establishing shot followed by a close-up of the individuals within it, a shorthand with the added benefit of giving more and more information about the geography and architecture of The Spire‘s fantasy realm.

It’s clear that Stokely takes the most delight in bringing monsters to life, especially in order to reveal the humanity within them, and his expressive faces and bodies complement Spurrier’s sharp, believable writing. Aside from a few necessary nods to worldbuilding and a tiresome running gag with a character who speaks in verse, Spurrier’s dialogue sounds modern and unforced, owing more to crime drama than to fantasy tropes.

That’s a smart choice, because at its heart, The Spire is a murder mystery. Spurrier takes his time leading us through The Spire‘s world before we arrive at the dead body, but when we get there, it feels like a natural progression, not a genre break. Shå (the one with the eyepatch) gets enough character development that, by the time she’s saddled with the task of solving the crime, we know her as a person, not just as a plot device. I’m not sure how Spurrier and Stokely cram so much into thirty pages, but I’m impressed, and eager to see how the big reveals in the final few panels will fit into the larger picture.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Jeff Stokely
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review