Once again, Proud Stands the Spire. It feels, as it always does, like it’s been forever since the last issue, even though it’s only been a month. This story is too good, and it gives me just enough every month to demand more and be ungrateful about the amount I get. It’s storytelling at its most compelling, and it gets better and better every month.
Shå has gone undercover with the Spire’s delegation to the Pax to protect her ladyship/lady love, and to discover who’s been murdering figures from the fringes of the Lady Juletta’s past. While there, she has to protect the delegation from murderous religious zealots, patch things up with Pug, the Spire’s Greatest Messenger, and try with varying degrees of success not to start a war.
Spurrier and Stokely, once again, have taken a storyline that I thought I had a hold on, and flipped it on me. This book surprises me at every turn, lets me think I’m a little bit smarter than it is, and then shocks me with a reveal. It’s the best kind of pacing in a story, where I can start to feel smug about how much further ahead of the story I am than the authors intend for me to be, they drop a bomb on me, and it takes me a couple more pages to pick my jaw up off the floor. This issue in particular has some insane plot twists, but it also has one of the more heartfelt character moments in the book so far. Just as they were giving me a huge smile, they punched me in the face with the story—I love it.
Stokely’s art in this issue is as impressive as it has always been. Rather than a mind-boggling two-page spread or some masterful layout, this issue is very back-to-basics. He knows that Spurrier is dropping a lot of twists and turns as far as the plot, so keeping the panel layouts simple and easy helps move the story along without tripping you up. That’s not to say he never gets to shine—the guy drops a full splash towards the end that’s impressive and horrifying and magisterial all at once. And with André May bringing his A+ game on the colors, this book shines. The heartfelt character beat has a gorgeous little trinket to be its manifestation, and the full splash shines with the kind of magical energy that really makes it horrifying. Steve Wands is also bringing his full powers to bear, and his obvious dedication to this book shows in every balloon, from the rough, hand drawn balloons themselves to the gray scaling of stuttering speech to the slight differentiation of the people and the messengers, he is a consummate pro, and he pulls of a lot of flourishes without stopping the reading experience.
People will sometimes try to say that comics are for kids, and that they’re only in the business of selling hypersexuality to the prepubescent. You should disown those people, but first, give them a copy of The Spire and say, “This is what comics are for. They are for wide-ranging stories with complex plots and rich characters, that neither panders to, nor lords itself above the readers. It’s the biggest budget project you’ve ever seen, delivered to you in 22-page increments once a month.” It’s a magical medium, and reading books like The Spire should show you that movies like Avatar ain’t got shit on the comics medium. It pains me that this book will be over in two months, but it brings me joy that it exists and I can foist it upon people for the rest of my natural life.
The Spire #6 Writer: Simon Spurrier Artist: Jeff Stokely Colorist: André May Letterer: Steve Wands Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/27/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital