As usual, Caitlin Yarsky’s art is superb and Sean Lewis’s stream-of-consciousness style of writing is both lucid and hypnagogic, yet there’s an uneasy sense of urgency in the storytelling. Bliss #7, much like the issue before it, is the appropriate comedown to the title’s euphoric middle peak. It’s a somber penultimate issue that will have to rely on the final issue to elevate it out the wistfully sad and depressing mire it exploited.
THE PENULTIMATE ISSUE!! The lauded miniseries is near its completion. LETHE battles to the end with BENTON and PERRY. While over the mountains, a new and final threat emerges. The townspeople and victims of Feral City.
Something happened on the way to Bliss #7. Somewhere it felt like a lever got turned and the ethereal mystery deflated and turned into a sad tale of vengeance and comeuppance. Considering that the entire series started with a trial against the lead character Benton, that should not come as a shock, but the disjointed manner in which all its threads have come together between this issue and the last after the almost ecstatic build-up over issues four and five (and an almost four month break between them), I can’t help but feel cold at the title now.
Nothing angers me more than the use of a beloved character’s death as a means to elicit sympathy, even as quite literally almost all signs have been hinting at it since the very first issue. I’m pretty sure this manipulation was not writer Sean Lewis’s intent, but it sure feels like it.
Bliss has been a story about the lengths people will go. Not just for the ones they love but the lengths they will lie to themselves, whether it’s Mabel keeping a blind eye to the murders her husband Benton has committed or Benton becoming addicted to the memory-eradicating drug bliss to keep from remembering his own sins.
These murders were committed as payment to the gods of Feral City’s underworld in exchange for Benton and Mabel’s son Perry’s life as a child. The daughter of one of the characters Benton murdered in Bliss #2 is now on his tail with furie-like purpose. While one child, Perry, looks to save his father from his fate, another looks to destroy him for ending her mother’s.
It’s these circular symmetries that excite Bliss with levels of meaning but the race to the end (issue #8) is a difficult one. As usual, Caitlin Yarsky’s art is superb and Lewis’s stream-of-consciousness style of writing is both lucid and hypnagogic, yet there’s an uneasy sense of urgency in the storytelling.
You see, ignorance in Bliss is only temporary and not even the gods are to blame for the ills of the city and its denizens anymore. It’s the saddest dramatic irony that the two people, Benton and Mable, who were truly the most honest with each other in this tale — and thrived because of it — are the ones who had so much to answer for.
That’s the cost of addiction. That’s the cost of Bliss.
The preview cover for Bliss #8 shows Benton sinking, much like Mabel did on the cover for Bliss #4. I can only hope that the issue does the same for the title as a whole in its home stretch.
Bliss #7 is available now from Image Comics, written by Sean Lewis, art by Caitlin Yarsky.