Writer: Sean Lewis
Illustrator: Caitlin Yarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A story about one man who will do anything to save his sick son, the pitch-black depths he will sink to in his pursuit, and the mystical forces that enable him.
Bliss evokes the twisted morality of Saw with memory manipulation from Total Recall or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Benton and Mabel Ohara fall pregnant with a boy. Mabel’s family disowns her, and the pair are forced to eke out a living in seedy Feral City. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that their son, Perry, is sickly and in need of hospitalization that Mabel and Benton cannot afford.
Resolving to do whatever it takes to give his son the ongoing treatment that he needs, Benton descends to the underbelly of Feral City, the Docktown market. There, he meets powerful figures who offer Benton the chance to end all of his monetary woes. In exchange, Benton is asked to do some...unsavory favors for them. To make it easier, they offer him a way to forget his actions and see his son grow up without worrying about what he’s done.
Bliss leaps into a harrowing survival story, dripping with gray morality, corruption, and mysticism. Benton may not be a paragon of virtue, but the reader is constantly forced to ask themselves: what would you do in his position?
The grim tone is oppressive and permeates every character and decision throughout the issue.
The discussion of the morality of Feral City is impactful without feeling preachy.
Benton, Mabel, and Perry feel genuine, and each have unique character traits.
Benton’s actions escalate rapidly, but care is put into making sure they never come off as jarring or out of character.
Lewis’s story may justify Benton’s sometimes appalling decisions, but it never glorifies them, allowing the reader to project their own perspective without feeling condescended to.
A two-page reveal of the true scale of Benton’s actions near the end of the issue is soul-crushing without needing to be overly graphic or gratuitous.
Caitlin Yarsky’s color work is pitch-perfect. Her palette evokes the ideal tone and feel for each scene.
Creative and unique layouts prevent Bliss from falling into an expected rhythm, keeping the reader on their toes the entire issue.
The first page (shown below) immediately has the readers diving head-first into the world of Bliss.
Yarsky’s character designs reinforce the idea that Benton, Mabel, and Perry are just ordinary people cast into a dire situation.
Yarsky’s locations all feel lived-in, giving Bliss a fitting level of grunge for its dark, brooding story.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The constant dread and bleakness may be overwhelming for some readers. If you’re looking for light reading or a fun time, this ain’t the book for you, chief.
A scene that has Benton walking past a number of hospital beds is a little too wordy, lessening its impact.
Suicide, prostitution, alcohol, creepy imagery, and plot points that parents might want their children to avoid are all in play. It’s definitely a comic made for an adult audience.
After reading and writing the word "Bliss" so many times, it now no longer looks like a word. Do with that what you will.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Bliss is a thought-provoking read brimming with atmosphere, character, and critiques of corrupt society. It sets up its premise remarkably well, and the series shows deep potential.
If you like thought-provoking, heavy stories that challenge your perspective and demand an active roll out of the reader, this is definitely a book for you.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Thumbs by Sean Lewis & Hayden Sherman
Little Bird by Darcy van Poelgeest & Ian Bertram
Ice Cream Man by W. Maxwell Prince & Martín Morazzo
If you like the art:
Coyotes by Sean Lewis & Caitlyn Yarsky
Chew by John Layman & Rob Guillory
Extremity by Daniel Warren Johnson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Sean Lewis – Writer
Dream Team: This is the second comic that Lewis and Yarsky have made together.
Multitalented: In addition to writing comics, Lewis is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, and performer.
Had Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Juicy’ on repeat on Bliss’s launch day.
Caitlin Yarsky – Illustrator
Multitalented: In addition to illustration, Yarsky also writes comics, works in game design, and is a freelance illustrator.
New Face: Yarsky only entered the world of comics approximately five years ago.
Yarsky lists Brian Shroud and Alan Lee’s Fairies as one of her earliest influences.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
From Your Local Comic Store (this should always link to ComicShopLocator.com; only use it if the comic is available at most comic shops, though)
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Image Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Image Comics or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED