Bliss # 8
Story: Sean Lewis
Art: Caitlin Yarsky
Colors: Ari Pluchinsky
The final verse of Image Comics hymn Bliss sings out a familiar refrain. I can’t get no satisfaction. Well, that’s not actually how this version goes. Perhaps it should be never satisfied or too little too late. Sean Lewis brings the spectators of this symphony to the stage for the finale, bringing me to my feet and leaving not a dry eye in the house. Enter Bliss Issue # 8 a.k.a. The Al Coda.
Theologically speaking, there shouldn’t have been much story after Issue # 7. Not only has Benton worked to atone for his sins, Lethe gave him a clean slate. And yet that is not enough for his accusers. Taking justice from the hands of the courts, even the very “gods”, Wren and her crew still are determined to render a final verdict. Rather than allowing Benton to move forward they prefer to see him as the man he once was, like time stuck in a bottle.
Go and sin no more has to come with some caveats, right? Or then it isn’t right, right? A confused and amnesiac Benton can only wonder is that who I was, or is that all I can ever be? Meanwhile, Perry has gone from being his father’s defense attorney to a judge with a decision almost as heavy as Pontius. Perry, no longer the sick little boy but facing the sickness of the world asking, even begging it to once again take it easy on his heart. Sorry kid, right publisher, wrong title.
“Bliss’ tale of Benton and Perry ends as sadly and somber as it began.”
Bringing a face to the fault in us all, Caitlin Yarsky and Ari Pluchinsky dynamically display an often overlooked chord. A casual glance of the characters these artists present in this stanza is important. For the first time the audience sees not only Benton’s accusers but also his witnesses. Amazingly, the makeup of each group is quite similar. Benton didn’t commit crimes because of a cause or just because. Instead, he did it out of compulsion. The ensemble also showcases that Benton’s compassion was not restrictive or reserved for a minority. What he had been freely given he was also willing to give. This group of artists has captured it all condemnation and compassion, each voice that combines to make this melody.
Image Comics Bliss’ tale of Benton and Perry ends as sadly and somber as it began. There really is no closure, this is the song that doesn’t end. A beautiful, if tragic, melody. An ending with pain but still possibilities. The possibility of hope and change that Benton sought (even in his darkest moments) and that Perry presented (knowing both sides of his father). Examining all the evidence I conclude that Lewis, Yarsky and Pluchinsky have combined to remix a classic. And yeah, I’d like to teach the world to sing too.
The ending of Image Comics Bliss # 8 is something even more sobering. All around the world it’s the same song. All that’s missing is the crescendo, mezzo forte.