Bliss #1 Review: A Comic Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda!?

Bliss #1
A surrealist comic with elements of urban anime and Gotham that poses to its readership an interesting question about morality.

The Coyotes team of writer Sean Lewis and artist Caitlin Yarsky reunite for a new comic over at Image, the surrealist Bliss. This new eight-issue series, which examines the morality of a murderer who committed his crimes in order to save his sick son, debuted last week with its first issue. Coyotes was as beautifully drawn as it was unique, but how will Bliss #1 new title measure up?

Bliss #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics.
Bliss #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics.

Bliss is reminiscent of a gritty, urban anime in that it creates a world, not unlike ours, where the crime is extreme, and it isn't shocking to turn down an alley and be introduced to a trio of Jabba-esque demon gods. It is structured as a trial against a murderer, though not like any recognizable court case we would know, as his son tells his story. We see this through flashback as his father struggles to make ends meet for his wife and sick son in a city that feels like Gotham on a, particularly bad night. The story is experimental and poetic, leaving a lot of space for interpretation as the reader is made to empathize with the lead character… before meeting his victims. It's more surreal than most modern comics, similar actually to Vita Ayala and Lisa Sterle's Submerged from Vault Comics. Bliss is successful with its first issue, creating a world and moral quandary that sticks with the reader after the final page is taken in, but it also seems like it will be a stronger read as a trade paperback. Not all stories are meant to be serialized, and this seems like one that would benefit from being read in one sitting.

Caitlin Yarsky's artwork is outstanding and has historically been the best aspect of any comic she's worked on. It was true of Coyotes and is again the case here, as she lays out pages in a way that makes them feel less like a comic book scene and more like visual poems. The only weakness of this issue, and it's a small one, is that it's distracting how much the lead character looks like Lin-Manuel Miranda. It's completely understandable for characters to be visually based on famous people. However, the preciseness of the likeness is a constant reminder of the Hamilton stars face, which breaks the suspension of disbelief a bit. Otherwise, it's a perfectly drawn comic that elevates the story with its visuals at every turn.

Bliss will run for eight issues and is releasing monthly from Image Comics now.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.