The Spire 8 (June 2016)

The Spire #8

There are many impressive things about this final issue of The Spire, but I think the most impressive has to be how Spurrier and Stokely pace the whole thing. It’s got a quick reveal to solve a mystery, but then spins into this third act for the entire series. Not to mention a simultaneously tragic and awesome moment for one of its most endearing characters.

Hero fartslam indeed.

While Shå solves The Spire’s mystery internally, there’s also the external (to the Spire) battle raging. Or preparing to rage. Spurrier and Stokely toggle quickly between the plot threads, agitating the reader and the characters. Everything is urgent, everything is important.

There are lots of revelations this issue. Probably half a dozen, maybe a few more, but Spurrier has the reader (and the characters) ready to digest them while in motion. There are no pause points; he never has to go overtly expository. The Spire is sci-fi fantasy noir, using the best narrative devices of each genre.

It’s also the best kind of depressing–symmetrical in its tragedy. Spurrier and Stokely make it move so fast, it haunts the reader without ever having to shock the reader.

The Spire is outstanding. Spurrier and Stokely. Hero fartslam.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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The Spire 7 (March 2016)

The Spire #7

The Spire is racing. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it was always headed to this place, where Spurrier rushes everything. Every subplot, every character, the cliffhanger resolution, the mid-issue reveals, everything is rushed. When it gets the final panel and Shå says “it all ends tonight,” Spurrier and Stokely are out of breath. It’s an exhausting read.

Stokely does better than Spurrier. There’s some rather good art moments, visual moments, while Spurrier’s got almost nothing going in the script. When he does have the opportunity to really write a scene, he goes the other way and lets Stokely figure it out visually. The Spire is a good comic, no doubt about it, it’s well-executed, it’s inventive. It’s just too much this issue. Spurrier wants it to do too much.

There’s enough story here for two issues. With the pacing, with the reveals, Spurrier could do two issues. There’s a whole Pug subplot Spurrier races through. It’s penultimate issue, wrap-up stuff.

I’m assuming (and hoping) Spurrier’s got a stronger narrative next issue. I want The Spire to end well. Stokely–and Spurrier–have done some excellent work on this book.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 6 (January 2016)

The Spire #6

This issue of The Spire is a weird read. It takes place outside the city, with Shå in disguise and acting as a bodyguard. A forbidden, unknown bodyguard, but bodyguard nonetheless. There’s a lot about the religious fanatics, setting them up as villains–with the awkward shortcut of comparing them to Christian fundamentalist bigots. But while Spurrier’s setting all that stuff up in the wasteland, he’s also keeping some wheels of intrigue running in the city.

With the setting, with the wasteland, Spurrier and Stokely have this foreign but very familiar comic book sci-fi setting. It’s just the right mix of everything, so beautifully brought together with Stokely’s organic artwork. He’s got the right level of detail, though he does go deeper with it on the wasteland half of the issue. It’s a voyage of discovery not just for the reader, but the characters as well. The reader has finally become a Spire city dweller.

But since Shå is in disguise the whole issue, the comic sort of doesn’t look like The Spire. Shå, as a character, changes. Her actions read differently with a different face. I’m curious if Spurrier’s going to do anything with it or I was just surprised to see the viciousness in an altered context.

Great finale with Shå interrogating an evil priest guy. Very unexpected finish.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 5 (December 2015)

The Spire #5

Politics, romance, danger, The Spire.

Five issues into the series and it still has a lot of surprises. Not just in the plot or a twist, which this issue ends on, but in how Spurrier is going to approach it. This issue is very straightforward, nearly noir with Shå having to figure some things out while trying to protect her girlfriend, her queen, not to mention having to get her sidekick back.

It’s a lot. And it’s packed because Stokely’s drawing this amazing setting–Stokely and Spurrier even do full page spreads, which is a little weird for The Spire. And Stokely’s not great at them, quite frankly, but I like seeing them. I like seeing Spurrier and Stokely open up The Spire. It feels like the series is still growing.

Spurrier’s writing is outstanding. Shå’s becoming something of a great character, which I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 4 (October 2015)

The Spire #4

It’s a bridging issue. It’s a decent bridging issue because Stokely’s art is awesome, but it’s still a bridging issue. What does Spurrier do besides humanize the protagonist a bit? He hints at more dread down the line. So what?

There’s a great fight scene and then Stokely gets to do a lot of narrative design stuff through composition, but it’s a light issue. It relies so heavily on the art, it would probably read better with almost no text. Especially the scenes between the protagonist and her royal love interest, just because Spurrier wants to hint at a secret and a problem but doesn’t want to have to deal with them here.

Why not?

Because it’s a bridging issue. And nothing gets done in bridging issues; Spurrier introduces some okay things to deal with later. But it’s light stuff.

I’m still excited about The Spire but it definitely feels like BOOM! shouldn’t have given Spurrier eight issues. Four might not have been enough (as this issue’s the fourth) but eight is way too many.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 3 (September 2015)

The Spire #3

The Spire continues to impress, though this issue shows the first time Spurrier lets the size of the comic get ahead of him. The lead, Shå, shows up on the fourth page or so–some beautiful double page spreads from Stokley here–but she’s just leading the reader through procedural stuff. Stokley’s composition is so strong, it overpowers the character stuff with she and her royal girlfriend bickering. The Spire is a big book, big story.

For the last third of the book, after some political stuff–the non-humans coming and pledging their loyalty to the humans–is all Shå’s, which is good, because Spurrier gets the balance right here between moving the plot forward and letting the comic have a protagonist.

The comic succeeds not just because Spurrier can eventually pull it around, but because he and Stokely work so well together. Stokely’s art makes some of the longer expository scenes visually dynamic enough to move. It’s a good comic, it just meanders a bit as Spurrier tries to define the boundaries of the setting.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 2 (August 2015)

The Spire #2

The Spire continues to go quite well. Some of Stokely’s art seems a little loose–the setting has a lot of design elements and Stokely takes great care with them. Then he’ll rush through a dialogue scene when it comes to the characters’ faces. The panel sizing is great, the composition is great, it’s just loose with the people.

Well, it’s loose after the issue gets to the protagonist. Before her, the issue follows the new ruler of the Spire’s mother. Not sure if Spurrier is hoping to get Helen Mirren but it’d be pretty cool. The relationship between the protagonist and the “queen mother” is fantastic. Lots of discrete character development.

Spurrier and Stokely have found an odd, working mix with The Spire. It’s steampunk, but organic, Western, but sci-fi, a detective story, but political intrigue. Spurrier never pushes the exposition; it’s all naturally revealed.

It’s darned good.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

The Spire 1 (July 2015)

The Spire #1

The Spire is an interesting mix of fantasy, sci-fi and cop story. The protagonist is a captain of the city guard (the Spire itself is a city state in the middle of nowhere–think Mega-City One only in a steampunk-ish future) who’s cavorting with the new ruler’s little sister. The captain is also a woman.

Real quick–the trend of lesbian protagonists in not Big Two comics written by men seems to suggest male writers can’t figure out a way of writing a strong female character who’s interested in men as romantic partners. It just means there aren’t strong enough male characters in otherwise good comics. They’re caricatures.

Except not in Spire, because the only male characters are supposed to be rubes.

Simon Spurrier’s script is good. The pacing is great. Jeff Stokely’s art is awesome, detailed in its roughness.

Spire intrigues and welcomes while maintaining dangerousness.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, André May; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 6 (November 2013)

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Spurrier brings the series to a decent, if underwhelming conclusion. Lots of things don’t get resolved and Spurrier has introduced so much over the previous five issues, it’s hard to remember them all when he brings them back in. He was able to entertain when he was being confounding, but this time he’s trying too hard to be literal.

He splits the issue between Blue and the gorilla. Only the gorilla doesn’t get a good plot thread, just an action scene. And Blue has a master plan the reader doesn’t know about, which gives Spurrier some time to kill explaining it all… time he could have spent a whole lot better.

It’s a big, monumental, earth-shattering finish and the series never felt particularly big. Stokely’s art for it isn’t composed big–and Spurrier’s plotting isn’t big either. It’s big for the sequel? Who knows….

It’s okay, but not great.

CREDITS

Fill Your Hand; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 5 (October 2013)

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And here Spurrier gets to the big reveal, or at least starts to hint at it. For a while, it looks like Gorilla could just be one incredibly long dream sequence–and it still could be–with a bunch of characters out of books the protagonist, Blue, has read running through his mind.

But it’s not a dream, not exactly.

Spurrier handles the reveal quite well, encouraging the reader to imagine all sorts of possible explanations before getting to the finish.

However, instead of the issue being entirely incomprehensible, Spurrier just has one incomprehensible plot development and it sadly matters. He skips over an important detail and it’s noticeable.

The issue races along, but remains a rewarding reading experience.

It’ll be interesting to see how Spurrier wraps it all up. He might have done some of the heaviest lifting this issue, leaving the more action oriented stuff for the finish.

CREDITS

And Those Who Dig; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 4 (September 2013)

SixGunGorilla 04 rev

I’m totally confused but I still love this comic. I assume the confusion is intentional on Spurrier’s part. He has Blue talking to the gorilla and the gorilla not answering him, talking instead about unrelated things. It’s very strange, very dense.

The density is a little surprising as Spurrier opens with some expository dialogue explaining everything–almost–to the reader. There’s an explanation of the other world, there’s an explanation of how the humans got there–about the only time the gorilla does make sense is when he’s talking about the natives of the other dimension.

Sometimes it feels like Spurrier’s trying to comment on Blue’s place in the story as protagonist. He keeps arguing he’s on the hero’s journey, the gorilla keeps telling him he isn’t. It’s weird.

Spurrier makes nods to his subplots, especially for the cliffhanger, but he’s mostly just gloriously confusing the reader.

Still love it.

CREDITS

Deserve’s Got Nothin’ To Do With It; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 3 (August 2013)

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The series just keeps getting better. Spurrier brings in more of the sci-fi aspect–people born in the different dimension have the chance of mutation–while introducing a lot of backstory.

The rebels all talk to Blue, but because they want their stories sent back to Earth. Spurrier is able to cover a lot of ground with them, especially since Blue is sort of a dunce.

There’s a lot with the evil corporation talking to Blue’s ex-girlfriend, trying to figure out where the gorilla came from, checking in on their bounty hunter. It’s a packed read, with Blue romancing the girl from last issue too. Well, she more romances him.

Spurrier even has enough time to introduce another bad guy, this one a rebel general. She’s only in a scene, but she terrifies them all so much she’s a frequent topic of conversation.

Gorilla is a great book.

CREDITS

Dyin Ain’t Much Of A Livin; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 2 (July 2013)

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Spurrier brings in the ladies for the second issue, with Blue’s ex-girlfriend discovering he’s gone to the colony–which Spurrier reveals is extra-dimensional this issue, not interplanetary–and he also meets a fetching working girl.

There’s a lot more with the conflict between the rebels and the Earth people; Spurrier’s just updating the Civil War, which is fine. He could have done the same thing set during the Civil War, if only he didn’t have to deal with the talking gorilla.

The talking gorilla doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, it counts. He’s also really funny.

Spurrier and Stokely continue to deliver exactly what one expects from a comic called Six-Gun Gorilla, ending the issue with a gigantic hard cliffhanger (gigantic in size, not story importance); it’s just a lot of fun.

The only soft spot? Spurrier rushes through his sci-fi details too much.

CREDITS

Just Another Filthy Memory; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Six-Gun Gorilla 1 (June 2013)

SixGunGorilla 01 rev

Talk about high concept. Six-Gun Gorilla takes place in a somewhat distant future, where there is fighting over Earth’s colonies. On these planet colonies are gigantic battle tortoises, amongst other things I’m sure, and it all appears very Monument Valley. Simon Spurrier mixes old and new; the combatants are an analogue of the American Civil War, but he’s following a protagonist who’s got a brain implant to broadcast his experiences back to Earth.

You know, for TV.

That plot alone is pretty awesome, but then there’s a mysterious gorilla who has real pistols–apparently they only use steam punk technology on the colony world, but regular future stuff on Earth–and the pistols are a big deal.

Additionally, the writing on the protagonist is outstanding and Spurrier gives him a lot of interesting conversation partners throughout.

Very nice art from Jeff Stokely too. Gorilla’s off to a great start.

CREDITS

Shoot Don’t Talk; writer, Simon Spurrier; artist, Jeff Stokely; colorist, Andre May; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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