Bliss #2 Review

by Nick Devonald on August 24, 2020

Writer: Sean Lewis
Artist: Caitlin Yarsky

The first issue of Bliss was one of those exceptionally good debuts, where you know you’re in for a treat right from the get-go. The central concept, of a father’s love for his family, is an exceptionally powerful one. The lengths a father will go, for his son and his wife, makes for fertile grounds to explore. Throw in some strange creatures and a drug called Bliss which remove memories and it’s an exciting concept for a series to explore.

This second issue expands a little on Bliss and its origins, there is a rich mythology here just begging to be explored, but it feels like we’re just scratching the surface. Most of the issue focuses on Benton, his relationship with Perry and Mabel, and just what toll the deeds he commits are taking upon him. The reader can empathise with the choice he made to save his sick son. His circumstances took away all the honest choices and left him with only one, and what father wouldn’t choose to save his son? And even knowing the toll that these choices are taking, he still chose to do it, to save his son.

Sean Lewis understands that a comic doesn’t need to be all action scenes and excitement to work well telling a story. It’s the scenes which at first glance appear quieter and less exciting which are the true strength of this comic. A father talking with his son. A husband talking to his wife. The things not said as important as those which are. It helps the reader really empathise with the characters and care for their story, and what happens next. And by having the framing parts of the issue set in the future, with Perry fighting for justice for his father, is a clever way of exploring their relationship in the long run.

What makes this comic so interesting are the morally murky waters it explores. Is it OK for a father to be a criminal to provide for his family? If he can’t remember what he’s done is he a bad man? Then there’s the implication that there’s a bigger picture here, and that Benton, for all his bad deeds, may in fact be needed to save the world from a much larger and scarier threat.

Caitlin Yarsky’s art is stunning. She brings this world to life, but it’s the characters which are truly special. Seeing Benton with his son, the weight that his actions are taking, the raw anguish and emotion on his face is incredible. It really helps to sell the reader that Benton isn’t a bad man, just forced to do bad things out of necessity. Yarsky captures the rage in the court room, the contempt on the Judge’s face, the emotions feel so natural and real the reader can practically feel everything the characters are going through. There is a scene that really stands out though, where Benton is looking at his memories, the good and bad, haunted by them, where the reader really feels for him and understands him taking Bliss. Yarsky’s art is phenomenal in this scene. It’s impossible to imagine this comic working half as well without Yarsky, and it shows once again that Lewis and Yarsky are not only an incredible creative team but if there name is on a book it should be a no-brainer to pick it up.

We get to delve further into this morally grey world, where the lure of Bliss is high, the love of a father for his son outweighing everything else. Lewis’ writing makes for compulsive reading, Yarsky’s art goes a step further than most comics in telling the story, and they’re a fantastic creative team. Stories like this play to all the strengths of the medium in telling a story that wouldn’t work in other formats, and are a great reminder why comics are an excellent medium for telling stories that go beyond the stereotyped superhero tales.

Our Score:


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