Spectacle Book Four

Writer / Artist
Spectacle Book Four
Spectacle Book Four review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Oni Press - 978-1-62010-981-6
  • Volume No.: 4
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781620109816
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Spectacle follows the misfortunes of a travelling circus in the late 1800s. Problems began with a spell stuck in the desert, during which the knife thrower was murdered. Since then there have been more deaths, and the gradual spread of strange mutations through the circus and sideshow staff. Book Three ended with clairvoyant Anna taking a twisted trip through a horror of her childhood with the ghost of her dead sister Kat, before which several questions about ongoing mysteries were answered. The real concern as Book Four opens is that the mutations are gradually growing stronger to the point where they’re overwhelming or killing people.

Anna still hasn’t solved her sister’s murder, but has her suspicions as to who the killer might be. Early problems here include the arrival of yet another ghostly demon, and for contrast a preacher who’s as slimy as they come, yet his promises are easily accepted by a bunch of desperate people.

Megan Rose Gedris was slow with the explanations earlier in the series, but there are plenty of answers here. The question is no longer what the problem is, but what can be done about it. Characterisation has been strong from the start, and the care taken in building up the range of different people united by the circus is apparent in their different reactions to the possibilities of a cure, and who they trust to provide it. It’s also interesting how Anna has been brought to the fore. Previously insular and untrusting, she’s now confidant to several of the circus performers.

By the end the true villain has been revealed, and Gedris uses the final chapter to detail their background and how they’ve achieved everything, beginning with Kat’s death. It’s a satisfying chapter that sets up the conclusion in Book Five.

However, Gedris isn’t quite finished, and this book ends with ‘The Tale of the Pirate Circus’ a short text story accompanied by illustrations. It’s funny, touching on events and riffing on the cast’s personalities.