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‘Where The Body Was Written’ (review)

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Published by Image Comics

 

Brubaker and artist Phillips are one of my favorite creator teams in comics.

Everything they do is well written and well drawn with excellent characters and plot lines. They have been on a real streak for years.

Their latest collaboration is something else entirely yet again.

There really is no roof on the kinds of stories that the pair produces, nor any limits to each of their respective talents.

Reportedly, this book, much like Brubaker’s first book called Lowlife, has a lot to do with his past and events in them.

That does give the book a little more of a personal touch which is great. Brubaker spends the first part of the book in a small poor area in a small town. Here, time is spent introducing the various characters of the book. They are all well developed and it takes no time at all in meeting them all.

We get to meet a young girl who thinks she wants to become a superhero. We also meet a cop who wants to just be left alone. We meet a neglected housewife who has been the victim of abuse of a certain kind. We also get to meet a private Detective who is looking for a young girl who has run away. We have met some of these archetypal characters in the creative teams work before, but all of these characters are perfectly realized for this book here and this particular story.

The story shows all of these characters going about their daily lives. They all have separate ones and we get to see the day to day inner workings for each characters life.

Soon, they all start to converge slowly and we start to sleep an overlap. The catalyst for that can be seen on the cover of the book. A dead body is discovered and that sets the rest of the plot in motion. Once it is, things start to spiral out of control and all of the characters are affected in ways that I couldn’t believe. That is when the book started to get really interesting and crazy.

Of course, once we see the dead body, the question becomes how did it get there? We get to see how the various characters react to the dead body. The creative team also explores what part each character may have I the overall scheme of things.

Brubaker takes the script and makes it bigger and more seemingly impossible to pull together. I read the book wondering if he could actually pull off what he was setting up with Phillips.

The good news is that they do it perfectly, and in a way that I have not seen before. I loved that the first two pages were a road map of the neighborhood that the story is taking place in. It made it feel more real and it grounded me in each and every scene. I knew where I was and what the actual scope of things was. I also could navigate myself much easier and map things out for myself.

As the mystery unfolded, I actually turned back to the first two pages often so I could familiarize myself with what was happening. And let me just say, a lot was happening throughout. The mystery keeps on building throughout the book. There are even a couple of red herrings that pop up. One thing is definitely felt: every character is going to be changed as a result of this incident.

Eventually, the mystery gets solved and not in a way I would have ever expected. It is a brutal ending and nothing could have prepared me for it. I was in awe in how expertly the whole thing was done. The last pages of the book are completely shattering and as powerful as can be.

Ed Brubaker’s script is top notch. The characters and the set ups and the dialogue are all great. He is one of the best writers out there. Sean Phillips just seems to be getting better on the artwork too. His pacing and his graphics are pretty incredible. His son, Jacob Phillips, provides the color and it is an effective job. This is one of the best releases of the year. This book will haunt my thoughts for many years to come.

RATING: A

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