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REVIEW: 'Step by Bloody Step' #1 by Simon Spurrier, Matias Bergara, and Matheus Lopes

 


STEP BY BLOODY STEP #1 

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matias Bergara, Matheus Lopes
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: February 23, 2022
Cover Price: $4.99

An armored giant and a helpless child. Together they cross an astonishing world brimming with beasts, bandits, and deadliest by far-civilizations...  If they stop walking, the earth itself forces them onwards. WHY? The child can't ask. She and her guardian have no language, no memory, nothing except each other.

Multiple-Eisner nominees SI SPURRIER (X-Men), MATIAS BERGARA (Coda), and MATHEUS LOPES (Supergirl) present a watershed moment in modern comics: four double-length chapters of a bittersweet fantasy opus, completely text free.

Let's take a walk.

"STEP BY BLOODY STEP may be my new favorite comic. SPURRIER, BERGARA, and LOPES have created something that celebrates everything comics can be: mysterious, inventive, bursting with imagination and also incredibly heartfelt without ever saying a word." -JEFF LEMIRE

Score:

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

Comics with only illustrations and no text, narration, or dialogue are rare and usually difficult to pull off. So much rides on having clear directives told in images where there can't be a lot of ambiguity or misunderstanding. There has to be a narrative that is distinguishable without saying a word. It's the ultimate collaboration between writer and artist where ideas have to be conveyed clearly in images while adding emotional weight. In 'Step by Bloody Step' #1 by Simon Spurrier, Matias Bergara, and Matheus Lopes not only hit all the marks they've created the blueprint for visual storytelling going forward. 

The story opens with a cold naked child in the palm of an iron giant. While delicately holding this child in its palm in one hand and wielding a deadly blade in the gauntlet of his other hand, this huge armored knight traverses the snowy landscape fighting off predators and stopping to only appease the young child's desire to grab the only things with color in this frosty fierce forest - a flower. A word is never spoken yet it's clear that the giant will protect this child at all costs and against all enemies. The child feels safe and happy in its presence enjoying the scenery and the adventure. However, the giant's protection of the child borders on controlling and possessive. 

All of these nuances are brilliantly expressed by Matias Bergara's sweeping landscapes, expressive facial looks, violent actions, powerfully designed quieter moments that fill the page with magically composed works of wonder. Splash pages that draw the reader in and envelope the eyes with beautiful details that allow one to linger before changing the page. Who needs words when Bergara uses each character's perspective to dictate the story with a look or a gesture. It's all masterfully choreographed so very little is lost in the storytelling except for the characters' motives and plans. Matheus Lopes' colors help to add depth and a sense of time and place. A wintry whitewashing of trees and ground with the peeking of a soft yellow-orange sun tells the passing of the day. The night sky is in black and blue with stars sprinkled in it. Later, a new landscape emerges full of sun and colorful plants. Lopes instills life in the fairytale-like surroundings provided by Bergara. 

 Spurrier writes a story that effortlessly builds upon itself with great action, both grand and minor in scope, extracting an array of emotions from its characters without uttering a single word or expressed thought. This is the mark of a master at his craft the way Spurrier finds meaning in every detail, every physical activity. 'Step' is a deliberate adventure through a fantastical world full of mystery but the relationship between a child and an iron giant is the galvanizing force that propels this book. 

'Step by Bloody Step' #1 arrives with an impressive display of comic book craftsmanship in a riveting adventure with nary a line of text. Engaging, exciting, endearing, and emotive, 'Step' reaches a level of storytelling unlike many new comics even those with thousands of words of dialogue and narration. The creative team's expertise in immersive world-building and character development with striking visuals and meaningful action elevates this comic to one of the best debuts of the year. 


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