The chock-full first issue of The Spire, the new book from the Six-Gun Gorilla team drops this Wednesday, and it is one of the best first issues I’ve read in a long time. The story takes place in a world with places named things like The Nothinglands, the Steeplekeep, the Garg-Coop, and of course, the eponymous Spire. The lower you go, the poorer the populace gets, the higher you go, the closer you get to the Spire-Baron’s keep. The world is populated by typical humans and people with special abilities and mutations, called either “skews” derogatorily, or “the sculpted” by those trying to maintain their dignity in the face of a Spire full of assholes. At the beginning, the old Spire-Baron kicks it, and the creatures and people of the Nothinglands who owe tithe to the Baron come to pay their respects. Meanwhile, Shå, a badass sculpted with one eye and awesome Doc Ock/tentacle powers is charged with solving the murders of three civilians--one of whom used to be the new Spire-Baron’s wet nurse.
That’s only the smallest fraction of the story of this comic, even after only one issue. It bounces all over the place, from level to level within the Spire, out to the Nothinglands, back again, up and around. Spurrier and Stokely are already at a level of information control that teams rarely have starting out of the gate. They know exactly what they want you to know and when they want you to know it, and this issue leaves you with a bucketful of questions, but excited to find out the answers, rather than wallowing in the confusion.
I haven’t read any of Spurrier’s work outside of this and Six-Gun Gorilla, but I really want to check more out, because his world-building sense in this book is on point. Within the first five pages, the reader gets introduced to all the different factions in the Spire, and they all have their own narrative voices, and killer designs from Stokely. Stokely’s art in this issue reminds me of concept art from Miyazaki movies, especially in his inking and André May’s coloring. The characters all have specific silhouettes and you can build their personality from their designs easily. Stokely and Spurrier also include an LGBT relationship that feels like a real relationship, and not just an excuse to draw two lithe, nude women, vaguely caressing each other.
Steve Wands is the secret weapon of this series. His lettering is very straightforward with the kinds of tricks you don’t necessarily notice that add immeasurably to the story. Each character occasionally uses grey text and balloons to denote characters mumbling under their breath--turns out a lot of Spire guards mumble under their breath when they talk to their captains, for example. Meanwhile, the Gargs all have very irregular speaking methods that get mirrored in the way their type is laid out, and it makes them even funnier than they already are.
Everything in this book fits together with everything else and makes it sing. Instead of throwing a lot of disparate pieces together in a blender and drawing them all, this feels like a big story with a lot going on. The new information feels like clues and not just random things that the creators have invented and don’t feel like they have to address. I’m not sure where this story is going, but the general idea that’s presenting itself at the end of this issue is phenomenal. I can’t wait to read this book for the next eight months.