By: Si Spencer (story), Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ornston, Tula Lotay, Phil Winslade (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Murder is the kind of history that tends to repeat itself.

The Review: Done with the Bar, finally—at least for the next few months. And yet, in the world of comics, life goes on as usual. It’s kind of comforting actually, to think that whether I pass or fail, there will always be comics. But enough with sentimentality; let’s talk about Bodies. One of the reasons why I loved Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers was for the narrative craft it took to use seven disparate stories to push each other forward as well as an overarching plot.

Bodies very much lands in the same mold, except you can see more clearly see the cooperation among the four storylines and their featured investigators: D.S. Shahara Hasan of 2014, Inspector Edmond Hillinghead of 1890, Detective Maplewood of 2050, and Inspector Charles Whiteman of 1940. Remarkably enough, Spencer is able to take each era in that order and still render a fairly smooth narrative.

Admittedly, the transition between 2014 and 1890 is probably the easiest in this issue. Just as Shahara discovers a brutally disposed corpse in the East End of London, Edmond takes over and offers some details on the condition of a similar body he runs into in his period: “Burns on the thigh, flagellation marks across the chest. At least one deep stab wound, one eye removed.” Despite the vast differences in their characters and eras, they have this common goal of getting to the bottom of a mystery, which lends Bodies its special fascination.

A glimpse of the Order of Mithras, which includes both Edmond’s fellow inspector and mortician as members, proclaims cultish nonsense at work, but why these particular bodies in this particular part of London? Prejudice could be at work; regardless of year, all the bodies are found in Longharvest Lane, described as “for lovers. / Of a very peculiar sort,” and listing as examples “Mollies and quinces and madgecovers,” all antiquated British slang for gay men. The bodies are also all male, in direct contrast to the female victims of Jack the Ripper. “To the long harvest,” declares Edmond’s mortician, and the harvest is long indeed, lasting even to a post-apocalyptic London in 2050.

This also means that whatever efforts Shahara, Edmond, and Charles make in their respective eras, none of them will get to the bottom of what’s happening. If anyone’s to stop the seemingly pointless murders, it’ll be Maplewood, the least reliable of them all, stricken as she is with Swiss cheese memory. Shortly after discovering her own body, she muses, sitting atop it, “I’m hungry. I might get a ship’s biscuit. No. I’m supposed to be doing something. Something with this…this…I want to say giraffe? Jelly? Telescope?”

She’s not to blame for her condition. At one point, she mentions how the “pulsewave” gains strength in open air, making it “harder” for her when she’s outside. So you have to ask: is there a connection between the murders and Maplewood’s London? Possibly. Just as she settles down to consider the body she’s found, a creepy, barefoot little girl with a ball appears in the doorway, telling Maplewood, “You are loved,” a catchphrase we hear exchanged within the Order of Mithras.

Without question, each artist does very well for him or herself and is perfectly suited to the period they’ve been given. Hetrick’s smooth, supple lines makes 2014 the most modern-looking of the four storylines, while Ornston’s thin scratches in 1890 suggest an era still dominated by fountain pens and inkpots. Lotay creates an almost charcoal rendering of 2050, emphasizing the dilapidated state of London, and Winslade goes full-on noir for 1940’s distinctly pulp atmosphere. It’s hard enough these days to get one good artist for a series, but to have four is an embarrassment of riches.

Conclusion: Even if it’s not always clear what’s going on, the amount of care and thought going into this unusual narrative is obvious.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – And the award for Most Racially Uncomfortable Exchange goes to Shahara and her coworker Barber for the following pleasantries:

“Tell me again why I’m the one in the body armor and you’re swanning about in Hugo Boss?”

“Because your people are on a ruthless jihad to set up an Islamofascist annex of mecca on the Mile End Road?”

“And don’t you forget it. Your head’ll be the first to roll as soon as my scimitar arrives from Taliban Central.”

– KYAL. It shows up in almost every period in various parts of Longharvest Lane. Anyone know what it may mean?

Grade

Conclusion