From the first page of Image Comics’ Step By Bloody Step #2, something is evident: A storm is brewing on the horizon. Writer Si Spurrier, artist Matias Bergara, and colorist Matheus Lopes might not have dialogue or words in their toolbox to tell their story, but that doesn’t stop their storytelling from being crystal clear. With the return of this incredible silent comic, we’re introduced to the stakes and obstacles at play in this narrative.
Step By Bloody Step #1 familiarized us with the world these characters inhabit. The young girl and the armored giant we follow cut their way through fantastical landscapes, populated with strange creatures. In that time, Spurrier did a ton of worldbuilding. Now, with Step By Blood Step #2, Spurrier begins to flesh out the plot. There are dark forces that are chasing our protagonists, and that seems to be why they’re unyielding in their journey. We don’t know a ton about these new baddies, as the language they speak is written in undecipherable hieroglyphs, but Spurrier teaches us enough about them through their actions. They are a powerful force with a sprawling empire, intent on capturing our protagonists through whatever means necessary. Throughout Step By Bloody Step #2 we see them prey on the weak, sacrifice the innocent, and destroy natural beauties all for the sake of empire.
Bergara creates a lovely juxtaposition between our two main characters. We see what it is that’s important to each of them through how they’re placed on each page. In one scene, the girl is playing on a beach. She’s splashing around in the water and having a good time. She’s front and center on the page, and the armored giant sits in the background looking small and unmoving. Then, when the giant begins prepping a raft for them to escape on, her big metal arms take up most of the page. The little girl is sequestered to smaller panels where she looks defiant and annoyed. She works on her own crafts, intent on making the most of her life on the run. You can see this theme throughout the whole issue. Whenever the little girl is having fun, the armored giant sinks into the background. Whenever danger rears its head, the girl is nowhere to be scene and the giant jumps to action. On some level you feel for the girl, whose fun feels essential to her survival, but you also can’t help but love this big hunk of metal that’s always stepping up to the plate when things get hairy.
Again, Lopes helps you disappear into every scene. Each moment has such a distinct time and place to it. Step By Bloody Step #2 does more than just give us a sense of the temperature in each setting, though. This issue sees many moments of war and conquest. Lopes makes us feel like we’re in each battle. With the dark backgrounds starkly contrasted against buildings that are going up in flames, you almost want to hold your breath so you don’t get soot in your lungs. And as the issue progresses, we ping pong back and forth between moments of bright joy and scenes of destruction. Soon, each beautiful landscape, painted in vibrant colors, comes with the promise that smoke and flame will inevitably snuff it out. Lopes gives us stunning highs and horrible lows, all in such quick succession that it truly gives us a taste of the pandemonium that is war.
Step By Bloody Step is experimental and potent. This is a creative team full of commanding storytellers who are absolutely up to the task of producing a comic series that has no words. Pick up your copy of Step By Bloody Step #2, out from Image Comics now, at a comic shop near you!