This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
The Spire, an eight issue mini-series by @boomstudios is excellent, it blew my socks off. If you have not read it yet, you really should, then come back here and we can gush about it. The world of The Spire is as though someone mixed one third Terry Pratchett’s City Watch stories and two thirds China Meiville’s Bas-Lag stories. The end result is bonkers and amazing.
The art by Jeff Stokely is really good at conveying this strange alternate world and the writing by Simon Spurrier is sharp enough that the plot is just enough to keep the story going. Skillfully we get character introductions and action while the world-building is taking place. It’s a different approach than say 8House Arclite (which is also good but different) and The Spire ends up very accessible fantasy.
Sha is the main protagonist, the head of the city watch and a Medusa, she can heal and produce tentacle-vines from her back as well as breathing the toxic miasma outside the city. Creatures like her are called the Sculpted and they are evidently looked down upon by the pure bred. Delightfully Sha is also a lesbian, so yay for LGBT diversity!
Issue one is about introducing Sha and The Spire’s world while showing that everything in the city is about to change, and not for the better. Sha is investigating a serious of mysterious murders so inexplicable that the suspicion is falling on a Sculpted. The killer is fast, mysterious and powerful and Sha has few leads to go on. The incoming new Baroness is not friendly to the Sculpted, unlike the old religious leader the Marchioness. The Spire #1 is one of the best first issues I’ve ever read.
The second issue has just come out and it’s equally good while adding more depth to the world and progressing the story. Without spoiling things too much, the Nothinglands (wastelands around the city) is populated by the Zoarim, a kind of religious war-cult. The city once had a peace treaty with the Zoarim but the Marchioness has let it slip by thirty years. The Zoarim are active once more and they have new weaponry.
Inside the city Sha is still working on the mysterious serial killer case, while under pressure from the Baroness. When the Marchioness is attacked the suspicion against Sha grows, heightening the tension between the pure and the sculpted. One part in issue two, where the Marchioness’ youngest daughter walks in on her and Sha talking made me laugh hard enough to pause my reading.
The Spire is for teens and up, it contains some gore, if you like fantasy like Meiville’s or a darker cop-story version of Labyrinth/Dark Crystal then the The Spire is for you. It dropped right onto my pull list and I don’t see it it falling off. There is enough inventiveness here to fill four other comic books. I love it; buy The Spire.