Bliss is a new eight-issue Image Comics miniseries written by Sean Lewis, with art from Caitlin Yarsky. The title refers to a drug circulating within Feral City, a drug that takes away the user’s worst memories.
The story is narrated by Perry Ohara, the son of Benton Ohara, one of the worst mass murderers to ever terrorize Feral City. He appears to be defending his father in front of a court gathering, although the legal circumstances surrounding the situation are unclear in some ways.
While we do know that Benton commited dozens accounts of first degree murder, we don’t know the ultimate purpose of the hearing. It’s evident that the families of Benton’s victims want justice for their loved ones, and we know that Benton cannot be imprisoned per the final page of issue #1.
Regardless, the courtroom hearing serves as more of a framing device than anything else, as the meat of our story takes place through a series of flashbacks. These serve to set up the basic premise of Benton’s path towards homicide, to introduce us to the scummy, vile underbelly of Feral City, and to illustrate why Perry is defending his father despite his horrendous crimes.
Feral City could best be described as an occult cross between Gotham City and Mos Eisley at their worst. Violence runs rampant, ethics are effectively nonexistent, and kind words get you nothing more than a knife in the back. The city is a monster in it’s own right, one that almost overshadows the true antagonists of the debut issue, namely three as of yet unnamed aquatic Gods.
These three creatures are arcane crime bosses who take the broken, distraught and hopeless and turn them into violent criminals. They offer these downtrodden individuals, such as Benton Ohara, money in return for dirty work, and Bliss when the darkness becomes too much to bear. This basic premise is simple, yes, but it works so well because it forces the reader to ask themselves, “Would I be able to resist this offer if I was in Benton’s shoes”?
After all, he’s characterized as a kind, strong and caring man whose sole purpose and drive was to provide for his family. He only ends up in the company of these prodigious creatures because he was in need of money to pay for his son’s medical expenses. It’s not hard to see why Perry still admires his father, nor is it easy to blame Benton for the dark choices he made.
The Artful World of Bliss
The morbid world of Bliss is perfectly portrayed through Caitlin Yarsky’s artwork. Her style in this series calls to mind Pixar films, as it has a certain round, smooth feel to it that appeals to the childlike sense of wonder in all of us. This contrasts beautifully with the very mature, grotesque and brooding storyline to create a truly unique and twisted reading experience.
She also knows how to layout panels in a way that moves the story forward smoothly without cluttering the pages. Many of the pages are rather symmetrical, which I find to be very easy on the eyes.
The first issue of Bliss is an engaging, well paced read that with darkly beautiful imagery and thought provoking questions that will force you to take a long, hard look in the mirror. If you appreciate morally complex stories with high stakes and phenomenally written dialogue, check out Bliss #1, on sale now. After reading, let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments below!