Review: Vertigo’s “Bodies” Great Concept – Muddled Execution

The cover for Bodies is simply stunning. A blood splattered pin-up girl with a mysterious symbol on her belt. What can it mean? Unfortunately, the story within leads more to confusion and frustration than intrigue and thrills. 

The book contains all 8 issues of the original comic book series written by Si Spencer. The storyline is very complex and meant to impact readers with the literal storyline as well as philosophically and metaphysically. The story rotates between detectives in London in 1890, 1940, 2014 and 2050. They all find the same murdered mutilated body and are driven into a mystery. The symbol of two H’s leads them on journeys of inquiry. While this concept is intriguing the story itself is too spare in some sequences (1890), and too incoherent in other sequences (2050), to succeed. There are well developed characters throughout. Seargent Shahara Hasan as a Muslim cop in modern day London and Inspector Edmond Hillinghead as a closeted homosexual cop in London in 1940 both offer fresh perspectives to the traditional humdrum cop comic genre. 

Another issue with the book is the inconsistency of the illustration styles. Each era is drawn and colored in such dramatically different ways that its difficult for readers to feel a flow and consistency in story. The same is true with the verbiage, flow and thrust of language. I understand that these choices were intentional to cement each segment in its era, I’m afraid that it may have worked too well and left readers in a lurch. 

This book is worth a read if you are a mature reader (this had many adult themes), enjoy avant garde comic styles and prefer a challenge. I do not recommend this as a title for new comic readers, those who prefer a concise and direct story or those who relish lush comic art. 

My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
ISBN: 9781401252755
Page Count: 210 pages
Publisher: Vertigo 

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