I like The Spire a lot. It feels big, dense, and lived-in. I’ve been reading a lot of comics that fit into the same broad techno-fantasy genre (It seems like we’re getting a lot these days.), but relatively few produce a world that seems quite so complex as The Spire. This is the kind of world where, though the story wraps up by the end of the book, there’s a real sense that the world goes on. That it existed before this story began and will continue to exist now that it’s over, even if we don’t get to peek into it anymore.
The Spire is one part murder mystery, one part political drama, one part weird fantasy. The titular city, built level upon level with the higher tiers belonging to the upper classes, is populated not just by humans, but many of the Sculpted (referred to more often by the pejorative “skew”), creatures who are…well, not human. They vary wildly and it’s never quite entirely clear how they came to be. They’re the subject of much discrimination, though. One such individual is Sha, captain of the city watch, and responsible for investigating the grisly death of an upper-class woman in a low-tier alleyway. The death of the city’s baron has also prompted certain political rituals to be set in motion to secure the loyalty of those outside the city to the new baroness. Could these things be somehow connected? Well, probably.
The Spire is dense, and feels it, and that can be a pro or a con depending on your taste. Many things are left unexplained, many parts of the world left unexplored. I still have unanswered questions that feel, to me, somewhat important to the story at hand, but not so important that the story ceases to make sense. If you’re the sort of reader who delights in loose threads, The Spire will please you; if you aren’t, The Spire may rub you wrong at points, though not so much that I can’t recommend it highly.
It’s a hearty read as it is, but if anything it feels like it needs another chapter or two, if only to space out its ending a bit more. This is a world that I could easily imagine returning to, and characters who, by the end, I find I’ve become attached to…not to mention the look, vaguely reminiscent of Studio Ghibli, which makes me want to just see more of what the world has to offer. But there’s no mistaking it: The Spire is really good comics.