ADVANCE REVIEW: Bliss – the book that asks "What would you do to save your family?"

Written by Sean Lewis, Art by Caitlin Yarsky.

From the team who brought us the book Coyotes, Bliss is the story of a desperate father doing what he needs to do to ensure the survival of his family. Benton lives with his wife and sickly child in what seems to be a rather lawless place called Feral City, where a drug called Bliss takes away peoples' memories and drives them to crime. Desperate to keep his wife from breaking down and help his son recover, he searches for ways to make ends meet. He eventually finds a way, but what will it cost him? Can he follow through with it all?

Does the end justify the means? How far will you go to provide for your family? These are questions most of us won’t need to ever answer, but yet we will always wonder what our line in the sand is. This beautifully told tale forces us to ask these hard questions. The book even opens with Perry (Bentons son) at his dad's trial, explaining that he has done horrible things, but he did them for the sole purpose of his family. From a moral perspective we might disagree with the actions he has taken, but yet we also empathise with him as he was pushed to the limits and only did what he needed to. This fantastic opening establishes the grey area our protagonist will be operating in. We, the audience, knows that he will go on to do horrific things, but it’s established right away that his son might not like him, but understands. Which is the same position we are left in as readers. This opening hits hard with the great writing and beautiful art, giving us more character depth in only a few pages than I’ve seen in some of the biggest budget books that have been released.

We are treated to some truly amazing art that stretches from overwhelming streets where unhinged people can do what they want, to psychedelic yet horrific hallucination sequences. Caitlin has a way of drawing out so much emotion, not just from characters but also from the locations.

The writing can be a little confusing at times. It took a second read to get the fact that characters' names are dropped but only once in a passing moment. However there’s a really interesting structure to the book, using both present and past. Even though it’s been done many times before, this didn’t seem like a cliché. We bounce between 3 different periods that I can tell from just the one issue. Which never felt too much or unnecessary. All of it helps build up the characters.

What I find fascinating about this book is the mystery so far. It has a supernatural element to it, where we see creatures appear. Who or what they are, we aren’t entirely sure just yet. The Acton element could be focused on, Benton will kill people so it could take the form of a spy / hitman book. Or what seems more likely is a slightly scary element. The dream / drug sequences have a distinct horror twist to them. With some distorted faces in a very dark psychedelic backdrop.

With the uncertainty of where this book will be going, it has me intrigued. Although not a book I was aware of. I’m now looking forward to finding out more about this world. It definitely has something going for it with its morally skewed protagonist. For me some of the best stories told are ones where the divide of good and evil aren’t so distinct. Some of the best characters we have had in pop culture over the last decade have been the “good” bad guys, like Walter White from Breaking Bad, or Tony Soprano from The Sopranos. This could deliver something just as compelling while making the reader question their own morality and ethics.

Bliss will be released on 22nd July from your local comic shop as well as on comixology

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