by Simon Spurrier, Jeff Stokely and Andre May
Simon Spurrier is off to the races with his new series from Boom! Studios. The book, now two issues in, is an incredibly rich new setting filled with strange lands, fascinating creatures, and a murder-mystery central plot that combine impressively well. After the first issue, readers were left with a mountain of information to ingest about this new universe. Spurrier and the creative team continue here with The Spire #2, filtering in bits and pieces of information and new designs to fill out this wonderfully fresh new series.
At the core, The Spire is a crime story. Sha, the story’s lead, is a detective of sorts, tasked with keeping the city and the city’s elite safe. When Madame Kean is found dead in an alley, her eyes missing, there are dozens of questions that arise and Sha is expected to have those answers. The story’s lead character is not the average city detective however, as The Spire is not the average detective story. Spurrier, with Jeff Stokely and Andre May, is telling a story that goes far beyond this central core plot. Sha happens to be a different species, or at least an altered species. While looking human, the protagonist happens to be a Sculpted, or a Skew as the less friendly might say. This added dynamic continues to run through every interaction in the series and it makes for a very intriguing additional layer to the series. Thus far, Spurrier has not divulged too much as to what the Sculpted are, what they can do, or why they are so disliked. Tragedy strikes again in this issue, and more interpersonal dynamics are explored between the royal family, those from the lower tiers and the sculpted. The book’s terminology, rich environments and implied history are so fascinating, it’s possible that Spurrier could just spend an issue exploring these worlds with as much satisfaction.
Stokely’s art is fantastic throughout the issue. The pencil work and designs of the characters and their features have some commonality with the designs of Frank Quitely. interestingly, the story rarely puts more than six panels on a page, with many having three or four panels per page. The issue packs in so much rich information through natural conversation and the settings, that despite the momentum of the story as a result of such panelling, it feels incredibly dense. Stokely is able to tell so much in the way of history and world building through the designs of these locations and characters. Some choice framing, including a specific instance when the panel layout adopts the framing of a window add a nice flair to the reading experience. Andre May complements Stokely’s artwork quite well. The colors throughout the first two issues have been very strong and elaborate. The bright, nearly fluorescent colors of the higher tiers of this setting and the garb of the royal family are so strongly contrasted by the Nothinglands and the characters that are traveling towards the city. While Spurrier keeps much of the history and explanation off of the page, pieces of conversations, along with the craft of the art team manage to imply so much that readers will be incredibly curious about just how this world order came to be and what has happened.
The Spire could be summed up as a crime procedural with some fantasy elements. That however, would not do justice to the care and craft by the creators behind the book. The new series from BOOM! Studios has, in just two issues, created an amazingly elaborate new universe that is as enthralling and captivating as the central plot. Spurrier’s vision for this unique setting brought to life through the work of Stokely and May have made for a very intriguing first two issues.