I Breathed A Body #3 sees the story start to take a corporal shape after its cryptically ethereal start. At its core, its a story of two parents going in different directions and the world at large in danger of literally damning itself in search of sensation and spectacle at any cost — even if that cost is their souls.
A science fiction horror series about social media, big tech and influencer culture.
Grisly livestreams descend into utter perversion, proving to the world there are fates worse than death.
As Anne architects a social media campaign of looming dread, she begins to doubt her actions and fear her co-workers. Locked in a terror-shrouded fortress of her own design, with nowhere left to run, Anne confronts the fury of a Fungal God long thought dead.
With I Breathed A Body #3, we get a clearer look at the origins of the pernicious forces powering the MyCee corporation — not to mention, bubbling under the surface of its leader Bramwell. But we’re left with one lingering question: who’s really the villain here?
We see Bramwell at the beginning of the issue, barefoot, exhausted and in search of a forbidden supernatural presence. It’s a force of nature that can only be referred to by her nickname “The First American,” or spoken somehow as a mysterious glyph.
If you’ve seen Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, or read its source material The Hellbound Heart, you’ll recognize that Bramwell — the power-hungry, wandering hustler and thief — is cut from the same cloth as the film and novella’s devious and damned antagonist, Frank Cotton.
I Breathed A Body has been getting darker and less ethereal as it progresses. There are still cryptic panels of things we don’t really understand yet, but the story seems to be firmly grounding itself. Credit for that goes to writer Zac Thompson who’s making quite a statement about the dehumanizing and desensitizing nature of the internet.
The deaths get gorier, but colorist Triona Farrell’s palette washes the blood in a dreamlike sanguine rust orange or a rosy purple. The carnage is real enough, but it’s bathed in an otherworldly filter, like looking at these horrors through colored water in a glass. Her unsettling work is really the highlight of every issue so far.
This is also the first issue where we see the actual psychological costs imprinted on our two main characters: media directors Anne Stewart and her editor Dalton.
The two of them have been ordered to broadcast the desecration of the corpse of Bramwell’s son Mylo who was the face of MyCee and a world-famous social media influencer. All of it done with advertising and with plans of an “Own a Piece of Mylo” campaign, with Bramwell ghoulishly and callously planning, “trinkets made from his flesh. Pieces of fingernails. Teeth if we can salvage them. Vein Necklaces. We’ll carve every piece of him into profit.” Cynically attempting to brand all of it under the guise of “art.”
Dalton, in particular, is affected by this exploitation the most poignantly. He realizes that the more Mylo’s corpse is part and parceled out like a sacrificial lamb sold to a butcher shop, the more of a toll it will take on his sanity and soul but that of the millions of viewers — and counting! — who Bramwell openly wants to desensitize into submission.
Dalton’s guilt and grief over Mylo, whom he actually cared about, and his own spiraling descent is expertly portrayed in a particularly subtle but powerful panel by artist Andy MacDonald.
Anna, whose real name is Zoe and is a parent herself, is shown fighting her own sense of escalating cynical desensitization. Where it might have once been used as a defense mechanism (hinted at since the first issue) she starts to realize the implications of exploiting Mylo’s death and its aftermath to the tune of peak media saturation, rising viewership and exploding MyCee stock prices.
The issue ends both cryptically and violently, setting the stage for the upcoming confrontation that will see this world, much like the hedonistic, debased Frank Cotton, damned in search of its own fetishized and intellectualized need for sensation and spectacle, no matter what the cost. And is Anne, (aka Zoe) Bramwell’s opposite, nemesis, reflection or replacement?, That question’s based on a blink-and-you-miss-it moment: a set of two different panels, one at the beginning of the book and one at the end, showing each of them walking barefoot in the same pose but inverted. One walking in the wilderness and one on a lush, white carpet, but only one of them leaving prints.
I Breathed A Body #3 released Mar. 31 from Aftershock Comics. Written by Zac Thompson, art by Andy MacDonald, colors by Triona Farrell, lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, covers by Andy MacDonald and Triona Farrell, logo design by Tom Muller, edited by Mike Marts.