reflection

STEP BY BLOODY STEP is something you'll have to see to believe. While much of the series dealt with simple concepts, this issue managed to get complicated without skipping a beat.
Story
Art
Coloring

Review: The Complex Made Simple in STEP BY BLOODY STEP #4

Image Comics’ Step By Bloody Step is a miracle of storytelling. Not only does it draw you into a strange new world without uttering a single word, but it also dares to be deeply complex despite its silent approach. Writer Si Spurrier, artist Matias Bergara, and colorist Matheus Lopes are, quite simply, showing off.

Step by bloody step

Story

Spurrier’s story for this series is strange, intricate, and refreshingly simple all at once. Much of Step By Bloody Step was merely some kind of pilgrimage. The two main characters, the girl and her armored protector, were traveling through bizarre landscapes on their way to… well, something! The armored giant’s tireless trudge onward was all we needed to see to know that whatever they were traveling towards was important. And in Step By Bloody Step #4, we begin to understand their quest in more detail.

At one point, Spurrier almost seems to be implementing a Deus Ex Machina. It appears that everything just magically gets better for the characters. But as the issue closes, Spurrier brings the magic back in, explaining its purpose in the story and showing that it isn’t just a “fix” in the narrative. Spurrier practically plays jump rope with the rules, showing that he knows what they are by walking right up to the line and no further. And when all is said and done, this story is about its characters. They’re the reason for everything – the magic and the mayhem. You’ll wince as you turn the final page, not quite ready to say goodbye to them.

Art

Bergara’s work is on another level. He often uses very clear visual storytelling to communicate each beat of a page. You’ll see the girl reach into her pocket, pull out berries, throw them over to some wild animals, and then you’ll see the animals fight over the berries. It’s a clear cause and effect that leads one panel into the next. But elsewhere, Bergara plays things closer to the vest. As the girl trudges through the snow, fighting against strong winds, there are blurry images in the background that tell us the significance of what the girl is doing. But it takes a couple read throughs to grasp the full weight of the moment – to see the subtle tapestry Bergara is weaving. These pages are probably the most complex part of the issue, but instead of spelling it out for us, Bergara gives us room to work, to interpret, to be active readers. It makes that “Aha!” moment all the more satisfying when it comes.

For much of this issue, the girl is the only strong source of color. The snow capped peaks that she journeys through, Lopes colors in light blues and dark blacks. But the girl is in a bright pink dress. “Bright” might not be quite the right word though. The dress fades as the issue progresses, a kind of representation of the girl’s fading faith. But when things really look bleak, she responds in vibrant anger that lights up panels in red and yellow. Even her face begins to turn red. And her hike through the snow evolves into a mesmerizing lightshow. Lopes pulls the cork out of the bottle and splashes color all over the page. It’s hypnotic, beautiful, and perfect for the fantastical nature of the scene.

Verdict

Step By Bloody Step is something you’ll have to see to believe. The omission of words in the narrative makes the story feel deeply emotional. It communicates on a primal level, speaking to your heart and soul before introducing itself to your mind. And while much of the series dealt with simple concepts, this issue managed to get complicated without skipping a beat. Pick up Step By Bloody Step #4, out from Image Comics June 1st, at your local comic shop. You definitely don’t want to miss it!

 

Zac Owens
Zac Owens
A world traveler and all-around nerdy guy, Zac is a DC fan and aspiring comic book writer. When he's not writing and editing for Monkeys Fighting Robots, he's carefully fitting more books onto his already-dangerously-overstuffed bookshelf. He lives in Halifax, NS for the moment. That is, until his Green Lantern ring comes in...

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Review: The Complex Made Simple in STEP BY BLOODY STEP #4STEP BY BLOODY STEP is something you'll have to see to believe. While much of the series dealt with simple concepts, this issue managed to get complicated without skipping a beat.