Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Sean Lewis
Artwork: Caitlin Yarsky
Release Date: 22nd July 2020
Benton Ohara is husband and father, desperately trying to make a better life for his family in Feral City. When his son becomes seriously ill and the hospital bills spiral out of control, Benton heads to the infamous Docktown area looking for some fast cash. What he finds down there is a world of mysterious gods, murder for hire and Bliss, a drug that pours your unwanted memories into the river of Oblivion.
Straight off the bat, this looks and feels something like a collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Gilliam. There is a disturbing beauty in the world that Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky deliver in this first issue; a world which is presented in the form of a statement being given in court by the now adult son of Benton Ohara.
Feral City is a neo-noir fantasy realm with definite shades of Blade Runner and Brazil coursing through its veins. The courtroom itself is a dystopian excess of hysteria and mob justice, held in what can only be described as the pulpit and chancel of a cathedral wrapped up in the gaudy decoration of a Victorian music hall.
The denizens of Docktown are suitably unwholesome, and the gods that dwell there are almost Lovecraftian, being composed of a mixture of testudinidae, bufodinae and reptilia that, while ensuring that they’re obviously sinister and malevolent and clearly aren’t going to be the heroes of this story, somehow isn’t quite as disturbing as the mob of supposedly law abiding citizens we meet at the start of this issue.
I really like what Lewis and Yarsky are doing here. This is a great first issue and the world they’re building is cleverly constructed, featuring some interesting twists on the multiple genres that it’s drawing from. I think the combination of neo-noir thriller and fantasy story works, it’s not something that’s done well very often, and this is certainly off to the right start.
The idea of alien intelligences or eldritch gods peddling mind altering drugs to mere mortals is not a new trop, but the way it is approached in Bliss is certainly an intriguing one, and one that I’m sure will have more sinister overtones as the story progresses in the coming issues.
The artwork is well done, and does an excellent job of bringing the narrative and world to life. As you may have noticed I was particularly taken by the architecture, and world that Yarsky has brought to the page here. There are lots of little details that just add extra depth to the artwork, and I’m looking forward seeing the development of this world and the characters that inhabit it as the series unfolds.
Overall, I really enjoyed this issue. It’s not one that was on my radar but it is definitely going onto my pull list.
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