We don’t have to take responsibility for the things other people do online. At least, that’s what Anne Stewart would like us to believe in Aftershock’s I Breathed a Body.
Anne is the manager for Mylo Caliban, the biggest star on the MyCee social network. Mylo’s father created the MyCena brand that inhabits seemingly every corner of everyone’s lives, he’s got over 400 million followers, and he’s in deep trouble–à la Jake-Paul-at-a-suicide-forest kind of trouble. More controversy means more exposure, however, and Anne will do what she can to reach that coveted 500 million mark. Anything to get that equity, dammit. But as Mylo spirals more and more out of control, Anne is about to face a monster–possibly of her own making.
I Breathed a Body is instantly relevant to our overly-connected world and takes hard questions facing us today head-on. Anne tries to wash her hands of the misdeeds of Mylo, but at what point do the brains behind our social networks bear responsibility for the crimes of others? Is being the engine behind an influencer worth the price of one’s soul? Coupled with Andy MacDonald’s grotesque imagery, Zac Thompson isn’t afraid to lift the curtain and expose the horrors behind the sights and sounds that slowly drip serotonin into our everyday lives.
And because it’s penned by Zac Thompson, there’s plenty of horror to go around. The story of I Breathed a Body is a collage that evokes Eggers’s The Circle, Gillen and McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Devine, and Cronenberg’s The Brood all in one twisted and original story. While none of the characters are particularly noble, upstanding heroes, there’s enough humanity breathed into them that it’s impossible to write them off entirely. Even Mylo, as unlikeable and brash as he is, gives glimpses of a deep pain that seems to drive his actions. There are also several subtle hints dropped here and there that you might miss in one read-through that point to more truths to be revealed as the story progresses .
MacDonald’s art, while appropriately gruesome (try to get that ending out of your brain), is also equally engaging. I particularly enjoyed some of his costume designs that carried an Eastern-punk vibe. And, while the story deals with a high-tech, not-so-distant future, Triona Farrell’s earthy colors subvert the areas we’d expect bright neons…and the imagery that creeps around the periphery of this first issue gives us a hint as to why. Additionally, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s scratchy, somewhat-messy lettering plays against the idea that we should be getting clean, crisp, high-tech characters. I also enjoyed the choice of colorized highlights for emphasized words that are traditionally bold in comics.
I Breathed a Body delivers a modern-day parable that is relevant to our social media-saturated culture that injects all-too-believable horror into headlines of today. Also, once you’ve read this through once, do yourself a favor and read the first four pages again.
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I Breathed a Body #1
Tackling Social Media Dilemmas9.5/10
Difficult but Infinitely Relatable Characters10.0/10
Bold Opening Scene9.0/10
- Writer: Zac Thompson
- Artist: Andy MacDonald
- Colorist: Triona Farrell
- Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
- Editor: Mike Marts
- Cover Artists: Andy MacDonald and Triona Farrell
- Incentive Cover Artist: Trevor Henderson
- Logo Designer: Tom Muller
- Publisher: Aftershock Comics