Step by Bloody Step

Image Comics. Aug. 2022. 160p. ISBN 9781534322387. pap. $17.99. FANTASY
This compelling epic fantasy features richly developed characters, breathless suspense, and a profoundly moving climax, all conveyed through illustrator Matías Bergara’s (Coda) brilliant visual storytelling alone, unaccompanied by text or dialogue. The story follows a spritely young girl and her hulking, armored escort on an arduous journey across a terrifically realized fantasy world. The path they follow winds through harsh terrain abounding with vicious monsters, yet they forge ahead, compelled by a magical wind that arises to prevent them from straying or turning back, and to usher them along whenever they take shelter in any one place for too long. While the girl’s innocent wonderment at the world seems starkly contrasted against her fearsome guardian’s propensity for brutal violence at first, Bergara and author Spurrier (The Rush) spend the first half of the story establishing how tenderly these two care for and rely upon on one another. Such deliberate character development pays off with intensely emotional high-stakes drama in the story’s latter-half, which finds the pair entangled in a war between a technologically advanced empire and an apparently primitive, orc-like race.
VERDICT An emotionally nuanced, action-packed, absolutely astonishing feat of graphic narrative.
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