Are you a fan of dystopian future societies, murder mysteries or sassy mutant lady cops? Then The Spire is just right for you! This book totally has all three of those things, and more! The book is set in a world that feels like it was started by a group of people who have watched too much Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, but set in the far-flung future. There are also mutants, and the titular Spire is a giant, overcrowded super-city (like something from Judge Dredd meets a Warhammer 40k hiveworld), which is where the murder takes place, and the former is who is investigating the death.
The book is gorgeously drawn, and I was definitely not expecting such a mature nature of the story to come from a book that seemed to be so fun, lighthearted and had an “all-ages” feel to it. This book is CERTAINLY not an all-ages book- if you want all ages go read Scooby-Doo team-up or Aw Yeah! Comics, because this book is not for the kids. Very early on in the issue we see a flying house-elf type creature who is dispatched to spread the news of the current Spire Baron’s death get his head vaporized very much out of nowhere. After two pages of thinking to myself “oh, maybe this is just a darker kid-friendly book… it’s not so bad.” We see the first of several deaths and graphic sequences in this issue. Mind you- I am not complaining about the adult nature of the comic book, I just wasn’t expecting it to be such a graphic book, since there was no rating on this book to give me some sort of forewarning.
I really liked the character of Sha (I cant even begin to add that odd punctuation to her name, so she will remain just “Sha”…) and how she seemed like a bit of a swarthy, piratical type of peacekeeper in The Spire. I think that if this society had any clue of who he was, they would liken Sha pretty readily to many John Wayne characters, because that’s who I imagine Sha is channeling at her core. Not to mention the fact that she beds down a rather comely lady in this story, either- which was unexpected, but a welcome change yet again; I was glad to see a strong female character, who isn’t inhibited by her mutation (or anything that makes her “different”) who is ready to take charge and who gets what she wants. Plus she’s just got a fantastic sense of humor throughout this book, which is nice to see that in a place like The Spire, where everything seems really dark, drab, oppressive and 100% not-any-fun, that someone like Sha can still cut loose and take jabs at people. Like when Sha answers her door in the nude, and one of her subordiante peacekeepers is only able to stammer out “b…b…b…” and she finishes his thought for him “Breasts, deputy.” It just shows that she is strong, confident, and not above making fun of other people’s discomfort; much like a John Wayne character would poke fun at a “proper lady” who is unable to mount her own horse without aid.
The writing of this book is extremely solid for a first issue, it isn’t weighed down excessively by some big, unnecessary infodump, because we get little bits and pieces through small scenes in the story, and a lot of information comes very fluidly from the dialogue in the issue. I think that this issue is the first chapter of a very large-scale story, and that The Spire has a lot more to show us than what we have seen so far. A place like this is unfathomably large, with a myriad of secrets in all of it’s unkempt, dark corners. We will just have to wait and see what secrets are revealed next.
I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a book that flows like a detective novel, but also has the sensibilities of a high-fantasy story as well. There are a lot of things to enjoy about this book, and the only thing I can take away from this that is even REMOTELY negative is the fact that the darn thing needs some sort of rating/grading to let people know “hey, don’t let a 9-year old read this, it’ll mess them up real good!”.
Overall, this was a solid first issue from a creative team I hope sticks together longer than just the eight issues of this series.