Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #182 by Drew Barth

Walk in Silence

There are a few inevitabilities in comics: massive cross-over events, another Batman spin-off, and Si Spurrier writing one of the best mini-series of the year. While I had touched on the first issue earlier this year, the conclusion to Step by Bloody Step only cements that above inevitability on Spurrier’s writing, but also showcases the quality of Matías Bergara and Matheus Lopes’ art throughout the largely silent epic. It’s also easily one of the best series to come out this decade and the only one this year to draw a few tears out of me.

The story of Step by Bloody Step is relatively straight-forward: a small, unnamed and unspeaking girl is being carried and protected by a giant through a world unlike our own to some unknown destination. We don’t know where they are leading, but they must go there. From there, we’re treated to an expansive world filled with some of the most exquisite landscapes ever committed to the medium, beasts that loom larger than the giant itself, and people. The people themselves look relatively human, as do the goblins they’re fighting. But these are people we see from the perspective of the small girl—someone who does not know this world or its language. And yet, despite knowing nothing of this world or its inhabitants, the small girl and her accompanying giant end up shaping this world by happenstance and through just a hint of time travel.

But maybe it isn’t all happenstance. What we see in the final issue, as the girl and the giant reach their destination, is that this isn’t the first time this has taken place. The girl becomes the giant and a new child is cradled in her palm to protect and lead somewhere. While there are individuals seeking them as they walk this planet, we don’t know to what end they’re doing so. How many times has this cycle played out? How long had it been since the last one? Is it inevitable for them to complete their journey and to have altered the world in some way? We don’t know the answers to these questions and we don’t need to. This is their journey that we’re simply witness to—this is the only cycle we get to see play out to its conclusion. And yet it feels complete. The steps taken in their journey are uniquely their own as they have left the world in a different state from when they took their first steps.

Spurrier, Bergara, and Lopes have crafted the kind of journey and world that is singular in its ambition. There aren’t many other comics that take the time and space to let a duo simply walk through a new world in this way. The quiet allows our eyes to marvel and take the world in—even the loudest encounters are rendered in such loving detail that we inevitably get lost in them. But then that feeling is what makes Step by Bloody Step such a marvel.

Get excited. Get stepping.

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.