Graphic Novel Review: “Where the Body Was”
By Nolan P. Smith
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are a legendary duo in the realm of graphic novels, known for their intricate storytelling and compelling artwork. Their works like “Criminal,” “Pulp,” and “Fatale” have left indelible marks on the genre. With “Where the Body Was,” they return, steering us into a gripping murder mystery set in the relaxed atmosphere of the 1980s.
In this novel, Brubaker’s writing prowess and Phillips’ artistic genius converge to create a narrative that diverges significantly from their previous collaborations. The story unfolds in a seemingly tranquil suburban neighborhood, spiraling into chaos one fateful summer night. A discovered corpse becomes the nexus of intertwining lives, revealing a tapestry of characters: a strained marriage, an irate man with a badge, a superhero-dressed girl, a man desperate to save a self-destructive woman, a storied boarding house, and a homeless veteran struggling with reality.
Brubaker, renowned for his skill in crafting complex characters and enthralling narratives, weaves an R-rated tale of deceit and mystery. His ability to imbue characters with profound humanity and raw emotion is exceptional, creating moments of intense relatability. Meanwhile, Phillips’ artistry is at its pinnacle, particularly in the emotive panels featuring an elderly couple, showcasing his talent in conveying powerful emotions through visuals.
“Where the Body Was” stands apart as an unorthodox narrative in both the Brubaker/Phillips canon and the murder mystery genre. It transcends typical storytelling, inviting readers into a world so vivid it feels real. This graphic novel, published by Image Comics, is not just a story; it’s an immersive journey, a mature masterpiece that demands a spot on your bookshelf.