Review – I Breathed a Body #5 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Zac Thompson
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Colours: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane Elhaou
Release Date: 26th May 2021

The Gateway to the Underland has opened and the fungal God of the Gelbacut has stepped through the doorway seeking vengeance as the world warps, minds merge, and Anne/Zoe’s world collapses around her. With the unexpected aid of the children, she must fight to stop to Bramwell’s twisted nightmare vision and ultimately make a choice between saving the world or herself.

This is the textbook definition of ‘sticking the landing’. The whole series has been a superbly well-crafted nightmare that could easily be the child of Barker, Cronenberg or Lynch. That said,  the final act is always the one that I worry most about because it genuinely takes a Barker, a Cronenberg or a Lynch to pull off a satisfying ending to this kind of story. Zac Thompson has met this challenge and, for me at least, is fast becoming a name that I’d count in the same breath as these legends of storytelling.

The final issue of I Breathed A Body, is visceral, horrific, beautiful, surreal and thought provoking. And while I’m aware that Thompson has already stated that he took the themes and styles of Clive Barker as inspiration for the tone of this story, he really delivers a denouement that could easily have been an entry in one of Barker’s Books of Blood series. This title really is that good.

Throughout, this story has been about identity and the hyperinflated need for attention and validation that has arisen from the technological advances in social media and instantaneous communication. It’s also about those who turn us into a commodity, making our soundbites and often empty and meaningless commentaries into something that can be crafted and packaged for profit. This is as much the horror story as any of the eldritch, surreal and oft-times brutal events in the story because this is something that is happening now, not in some fantasy future realm, this is the reality we’re crafting for ourselves where, like Mylo, we run the risk of losing everything that we are, or dreamed we’d become, to a monstrous machine that will consume us down to the last drop of blood for a profit.

This story is also about how we shape the world around us to suit our own image of it. However insignificantly it might seem, each of us changes something in the world as we pass through it, and Zac Thompson’s vision is an extreme extension of that which, although this predominantly monstrous, made me think (with apologies if this sounds a little preachy) about the impact I have on those around me and how I can make that a more positive one.

This series has also been a tour de force in delivering the kind of horror that gets under your skin and makes you itch for days, and this is in no small part thanks to the fact that I Breathed A Body has been visually stunning, with absolutely every panel and page being pitch perfect. It takes something very special to write a story this good, but how often do you read a really well written comic only to be let down by the artwork? Andy MacDonald, Triona Farrell & Hassan Otsmane Elhou have delivered an incredible body of work consistently throughout the series, and I’ve been blown away by how well they’ve managed to bring Zac Thompson’s twisted future shock so beautifully alive on the pages.

This is a story heavily bound in body horror and the surreal, which is something that’s incredibly difficult to deliver well without slipping into parody or becoming so over the top that it detracts from the story. This isn’t done well, it’s done exceptionally well, and this creative team also manage to somehow give us something beautiful amongst the viscera and nightmares, an achievement which I find truly remarkable.

There is huge amount going on in this final issue, but the narrative is woven so well that it’s never overwhelming. And when the field is clear and the dust is settling, Ann/Zoe’s final trial is one presented in an almost serene way and despite the fact that it is a conclusion that would not have been out of place in the workings of The Engineer of the Cenobites, it is a conclusion that has a certain peace and beauty about it.

I have praised this series from the first page to the last, and if you haven’t been keeping up with this series over the single issues, then you certainly need to be putting this on your list when the collected edition comes out. This is a title which, without question, needs to be on every horror fan’s shelves.

Rating: 5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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