Wednesday, 13 August 2014

New Beginnings - Bodies #1

by Matt Puddy

Bodies is not the most enigmatic title I have come across in recent times yet combined with the cover imagery of a glamorous woman from the Fifties complete with blood splatters, it certainly makes it a perplexing offering.

When you add in the premise for this comic, it’ll throw you out even more. Four time periods, four detectives, four murders, identical MO, identical location – the twist? It’s the same body.

Spread over 1890, 1940, 2014 and 2050, the story follows four distinctly individual sleuths, each trying to get to the bottom of an apparently impossible body. Each has their own foibles and quirks, but all are dedicated to the cause. They all also seem to have their own trials to overcome. Whether it be religion, sexual preference, intelligence (albeit through the devolution of society) or simply sadistic tendencies, all four of our crime fighters are up against it in one way or another. 

From a reader's point of view, you get an entry level whodunit with the added advantage of seeing the body through the eyes of various people who all pick up on different things. It’s a professional job, but one with a ritualistic killing as it was marked with a sign. It also seems to appear in whichever time you see it in out of thin air regardless of who is around. So from your own perspective it creates a lot of different questions around the whole thing too.

From a writing perspective Si Spencer clearly has a wide ranging plan. From reading his piece in the back, it is clear that a lot of time has been spent engineering the whole impossible idea in reverse to make it happen. I can’t decide if it’s too convoluted to be kept under control, or if it’s just on the right side of crazy to border on genius.

Whichever way it lies, careful consideration has been made over a lot of the different elements. Instead of burdening one artist with the peculiarities of drawing in wildly different styles, no less than nine artists are all attached to this project. Four are directly linked by the artwork in each timeframe, with the others adding sections and covers alike. It’s quite a bold step but it works well as it gives a very strict differentiating factor to keep all the time lines unique - aside from the identical body that is!

The individual artist styles also compliment the timelines that they portray, including an almost soft and fluffy future where knowledge being constantly forgotten seems to be a big issue. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot more hidden in there too as a result.

Combine it all together and Vertigo have an interesting title with a delightfully abnormal approach, led by a writer who is obviously very committed and enthusiastic about the project. You can’t question Spencer’s love of what he’s doing here. I just hope he hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew.

Will the stories cross? How will this all be solved and resolved? We will be sure to find out.

Matt Puddy is fascinated by what comes next.

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