Welcome back: it’s been a month, and, as always, Proud Stands the Spire. The issue opens with the biggest action sequences of the series, and puts all the heroes and sidekicks through a physical and emotional wringer. In other words: it’s great comics. The issue begins with Shå’s pursuit, with the aid of Pug the messenger goblin, of the person who may or may not be the Soulbreaker through the ducts and crannies and nooks of the Spire. Shå has to interrupt her part of the chase to complete her state duties as the representative of the Spire’s police force, and therefore has to dip her toes in the foul waters of Spire politics. The back half of the issue is much more contemplative, with the body of the old Baron finally cremated in the Needle’s Tip, before a final page reveal so intense that I’m already jonesing for the next issue to drop.
Jeff Stokely is doing career-defining work on this book. His sense of pacing is amazing, with the chase sequence punctuated by inset panels really keeping the tension up and making the entire things propulsive before using the chase as a background in another amazing double page spread. I don’t know how Stokely and Spurrier keep coming up with these fascinating page layouts to spice up what would be, in lesser hands, a fairly dialogue-heavy scene, but I hope they keep it up. And as an added bonus from all this phenomenal sequential work is his unbelievable design skill. A lot of comic artists will slap some spikes on a suit and call it a redesign, or just add as many extraneous dials and levers to a machine as they can—everything in the world of the Spire feels like it works, but it doesn’t feel overdone. Stokely’s rendering a world where magic (or something like it) is real, where society is based in a very metaphorical tower of class, where people grow extra spider-y limbs and live forever, and it all feels of a piece, especially with May’s colors pulling the whole thing together. It’s a bravura performance, and it’s only halfway over.
Spurrier’s writing is as deft a touch as ever. He’s continuing to dole out just enough information to keep me on the edge of my seat every month, and pull me along into the next issue. As an aside: since all our review copies here at Comic Bastards are digital, there are occasionally comics that fail the litmus test of the Internet—they’re not intriguing enough to me to keep me reading the entire thing without checking Twitter, basically. Spurrier never fails that test. I read Six Gun Gorilla digitally in one fevered evening, and each time The Spire hits my dropbox, I’m glued to it. Another credit to Spurrier’s writing is the incredibly thought-out dialect of the Spire: everyone’s lines read the way their class talks, if that makes sense. The messenger goblins (especially Pug—sweet, innocent, farting Pug) have their stuttering profanity of a language, half-shouted and half-whispered; the royalty speak as though they are higher beings placed in a realm of mere mortals; and Shå talks like a cop who’s been on a rough beat thirty years too long. Steve Wands’ letters deserve credit for selling some of the differences, whether it’s greyed out text or wobbly balloons, he conveys emotion through his designs, which never ceases to impress me.
This is one of the best books Boom! is putting out right now. It’s a tough short sell, because there’s no good logline for it, but you’ve gotta believe me, folks, this is the fantasy book to be reading. There have been second printings of the first issue, so you have no excuse: go buy this book, and spend your afternoon offering your tithes.
The Spire #4 Writer: Simon Spurrier Illustrator: Jeff Stokely Colorist: André May Letterer: Steve Wands Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/28/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital