The Spire is a political thriller set in a fantasy world. The central locale of this world is a city built upward, culminating in a spire. The royalty at the center of this kingdom live high in this spire, and below on the streets thrive the poor, wretched, weary, discriminated against – basically, the non-human fantasy creatures that are unpleasant to look at. If you see an allegory of some kind shaping, you’re probably right, but it’s not at all heavy handed at this point. It exists so we can relate to this world.
A murder has occurred, and the city’s kickass female royal detective, Sha, is on the case. Why wouldn’t she be? She’s kick ass. I feel like in this day of miscommunication, I have to be clear that I’m in no way being sarcastic. You like fully developed female characters who are also awesome, here you go. She belongs to a race of people who have these string-like tentacles that come out of their back, making it easy for them to climb walls and stuff. Awesome! But, it isn’t just her physicality that makes her awesome. Keep reading . . .
The new Baroness in place isn’t a big fan of Sha’s. In fact, Sha is getting hammered in every direction – a kind of demotion (which she pays no heed to) – more murders, delegates from other kingdoms all with their own personal grudges and reasons to be there, a repugnant, flying (and hilarious) creature named Pug that sees himself as her assistant. The only thing that seems to be going well for her is her personal life which also has its complications, as her lover is daughter to the previous Baroness that was almost murdered and set Sha off on her investigation, but she’s happily involved for now. The thing (I guess things.) I like about her so much is that she’s driven to do the right thing even when she’s not enjoying it and even when she doesn’t have to – she’s grumpy but has a great sense of humor and takes pride in her work to her own detriment at times.
Simon Spurrier (Judge Dredd, Marvel Zombies) has certainly created a world with equal parts humor and danger. Like with Marvel Zombies, his dark, British sense of humor is at play and never stops for an easy laugh. It’s used more in a broad sense, suggesting that everything here is a bit absurd.
Jeff Stokely’s detailed artwork (Six-Gun Gorilla, The Reason for Dragons) reminds me a bit of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, which fits perfectly into a story like this. He doesn’t only capture the characters and their personalities, but you get a real sense of the world surrounding them – the scale and the heights from which the royalty looks down at everyone else. There’s a wonderful layout of staircases and levels as two characters walk and talk in this issue. Just beautiful imagery to look at.
Andre May’s (Six-Gun Gorilla) color scheme is vibrant and well thought out. Shades and tones separate top from bottom and present from past, keeping the world fantastical but grounded enough so we can relate.
A very enjoyable read that I highly recommend (as I find myself doing with most BOOM! comics these days).