I Breathed A Body reaches peak grotesquerie with issue #4. Provocative and claustrophobically sinister and gruesome, it’s truly one of the most effective horror movies I’ve ever read.
There’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote that I feel fully represents the absolute bonkers I Breathed a Body #4: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.” Well, let me say this: this title just went pro.
Following the act of seppuku at the end of I Breathed a Body #3, the whole world seems to be going to hell — literally. With Bramwell, the head of the mega-corporation MyCena, starting a ritual (with a mysterious, VERY odd hunchback, misshapen character) to bring back his deceased son, Mylo, who killed himself at the end of issue one.
But this trip to the underworld is not enveloped in flame but in fungus. Blooming, bursting, plumping fungi that not only pops out of the ground in ghoulish and lovely purple-rosy colors (once again, props to the series’ secret weapon, colorist Triona Farrell) but out of people like billowing tumors.
Which brings me to the body horror angle of this issue. Whatever horrors that have happened in the last three issues can’t compete with the full-tilt boogie of the grotesquerie happening here. This issue is basically the countdown to the bomb – or the summoning of it at least.
The bomb in this case is an elemental force of nature that could be the savior or could be the destroyer. Writer Zac Thompson only gives us the story as told from the point of view of the main character Anne, aka Alice, who is stuck between two Faustian bargains of her own and undergoing a blooming transformation of her own.
We have no real idea of what’s going on. The story is opaque and creepy and steeped in a sinister Rosemary’s Baby– style dread that leads to a montage of spectacular, gross mass death that reminds me of both the end of The Godfather and the orgiastic body-mass growth explosions of Akira.
Besides those films, the issue at various times reminds me of Hereditary, Videodrome, even The Manitou. This series is one of the most effective horror movies I’ve ever read.
Andy MacDonald’s art effectively conveys the horror of it all with some subtle lettering work by Hassan Otsame-Elhaou that uses different voices to add to the suffocating delirium the issue is reveling in. I Breathed a Body #4 is as much a ritual for the characters of the story as it is for the reader. It changes you and stays with you and, like the very fungus within, grows.
This is a powerful, violent, visceral horror title. Some stories present the devil in front of you to scare you. Others hint at them making what you can’t see the real power. In I Breathed a Body, the devil is peering at you from inside your closet or next to you, just out of eyesight and reaching out its finger just close enough for you to feel the chill but not its contact.
With this series’ statements on influencer culture, social media and public homogeny, we’re given questions: if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you? If you did, would you tweet about it? If someone else did, would you watch? How would that change you?
In I Breathed a Body #4 we are given a clear answer to those last questions by MacDonald. Not only would we watch, we’d pay for it. With everything.
Also, I want to commend Aftershock Comics for including information at the end of the issue on suicide awareness. That’s a considerate and admirable sign of self-awareness.
I Breathed A Body #4 released Apr. 28 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.