A very unusual concept, Step by Bloody Step takes the fairly recognisable theme – with clear shades of the Iron Giant – of a helpless child being protected by an enormous mechanical guardian and gives us a completely silent comic that relies on its strong artwork and very clear storytelling to deliver the tale to readers.
Though it doesn’t always succeed – there are a few moments of action where it’s unclear what’s actually transpired – it’s more remarkable for how often the story beats truly land, including one hell of a twist towards the latter end of this first issue.
The seemingly post-apocalyptic landscape that our initially naked protagonist is being protected from is well sketched out – and feels like a unique, uncompromisingly dangerous world. The world-building is truly remarkable for a story without captions or dialogue of any kind.
The giant, armoured being protecting the child is endeared to readers almost immediately, with us being shown that it understands the need to clothe the child, feed her and protect her from the creatures and environments that would not – do not – hesitate to harm her.
Though it seems like the giant may not truly understand humans during a meeting with them – being somewhat over-protective of the child – the jaw-dropping twist that occurs near the end (and another development that gives us some clear, presumably recurring, antagonists) make it obvious that the giant is just doing what it can to keep the girl safe.
All of this is imparted, as I’ve mentioned, with zero dialogue. It’s an atmospheric, affecting and truly compelling comic book that feels like little else; though I mentioned The Iron Giant almost straight away – and you won’t fail to make that comparison as you begin the journey with these characters either – it’s clear that this is a very different beast indeed. It’s a very strong first issue – and it’s a journey I can’t wait to continue as the series progresses.
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