Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the incomparable creative team behind works such as Criminal, Kill or Be Killed, and Night Fever, have once again graced the world with another crime fiction story in, Where The Body Was. This remarkable new work by Brubaker is a captivating noir-lite mystery story, set in a seemingly tranquil suburban backdrop, but rife with unexpected twists and turns. The kind of writing and pivot points that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Kicking off with a narrative that centers around the discovery of a lifeless body, what unfolds ignites a labyrinthine web of questions regarding how it ended up there and, perhaps even more crucially, who it belongs to. This thread becomes the driving force behind the story intertwining with a colorful array of characters living in 1984 suburbia, each with their own distinctive personalities.
Where The Body Was unfolds with a charming map of the local neighborhood and a small page-length profile page as an introduction to the cast. A tool that effectively immerses readers into the community. Once the story kicks off, the reader then jumps from character to character in a series of narratives serving as slice-of-life characterization, all while utilizing skillful use of monologues that breathe life into these people with very well-defined voices. Overall, these early pages plus friendly colors set the stage for their subsequent interactions and conflicts, as suburbia turns into delinquent chaos propelled by interpersonal expectations and desires.
The result becomes a delightful portrayal of a high-stakes murder story with a unique twist in how it isn’t really at all about the mystery. It’s distinct from Brubaker’s previous work in that while expectations start with what you think will be a cop drama, then almost entirely deviates from what you think will be the mystery. The people you think you know from those opening intros serve as tropes very typical of these genre stories, yet all of them prove to be vastly different from the caricatures you think they’re meant to be.
It’s thus in its genius storytelling and illustration, that rather than focusing solely on solving a mystery, the narrative delves deep into the lives and histories of the street’s inhabitants, the local neighborhood, and truly, an intricate tapestry of human experiences. It’s not the mystery, it’s the characters. People with backstories reflected in substance abuse, marital neglect, superheroic aspirations, and even attempted murder—all interwoven into the rich tapestry of this engrossing tale utilizing both bending expectations and foreshadowing. By using a bit of a flashforward which bends what you think is happening in a way that’s very reminiscent of early pulp comics. Where crazier, kooky ideas and misdemeanors elevate into substantially dangerous, but oftentimes also hilarious, climaxes for everyone’s thread.
Where The Body Was comes highly recommended for those seeking a compelling and unique reading experience. The stark contrast between the seemingly idyllic suburban setting and the dark secrets that lurk within intensifies the narrative’s impact.
With a runcount of 144 pages, this comic arrives in comic book shops on January 16, 2024.