A young girl awakens in a snowy tundra. The only thing around her body is the metallic grip of a mysterious, gigantic knight. Though the girl and her protector have no language between them, they are able to scratch and claw their way through a strange world full of monsters. Can they make it to their destination–wherever that may be? Follow Si Spurrier and Matías Bergara’s new, wordless journey, every Step By Bloody Step of the way.
Every now and then, the comic gods deem us worthy of receiving a wordless comic; a fantastic example of this from recent memory is Hedra by Jesse Lonergan. With that book in mind, I dove into this book headfirst, hoping and praying that it was able to uniquely convey a story with the added challenge of being text-free.
In very large part, it succeeds. I think my one hang-up is that, in spite of the double length, the book’s panels sometimes feel a wee bit tight, which makes it hard for the artwork to fully convey what is happening.
However, that minor complaint is vastly overshadowed by a giant suit of armor and a young girl who won my heart. I love the strangeness of the world–almost as if they are battling through a nightmarish Dr. Seuss planet. The monsters are creepy, the action is intense, and the moments of emotion bring the pages to life.
I think my favorite aspect of the book is how it kind of borrows from a storytelling device employed by a lot of anime: there are small, poignant moments where the girl comes across an object that brings clarity to the chaos surrounding her. As the giant knight is locked in combat with a beastly, werewolf-looking thing, the girl is drawn to a blossom that somehow managed to survive the snow–just like her. A small village showers the girl with random acts of kindness, including a young boy offering his stuffed animal to her. But these things are fleeting, and the life the girl is destined to live will not allow them. There is beauty and longing and tragedy wrapped all around these small scenes, and it hurts so good.
Do I have any idea what’s going on in this book? Not exactly. There’s an epic journey and some twists that reveal themselves toward the end. And where I think this book largely goes toe-to-toe with a piece like Hedra, it also evokes Brian K. Vaughan and Muntsa Vicente’s Barrier. The former is a one-shot; the latter is a miniseries that forces you to rely on contextual clues from the art (unless you’re blessed to speak both English and Spanish). But the emotional depth emitted in this first issue of Step By Bloody Step has me along for the ride…(yes, I’m gonna do it again)…every step by bloody step.
Image Comics gives us yet another powerful, emotive wordless comic filled with imaginative artwork and a hero’s journey featuring two vastly different protagonists. Based on this first issue, I’m a little morose that we only get to suit up for three more.
Step By Bloody Step #1
Good Wordless Comics FTW10.0/10
Fantastical Artwork that does the heavy lifting8.5/10
But Why Can't She Have the Stuffed Toy10.0/10
Surprise Reveals In Issue #19.0/10
- Story: Si Spurrier
- Art: Matías Bergara
- Colors: Matheus Lopes
- Graphic Design: Emma Price
- Publisher: Image Comics