One Punch Reviews #82: Our Bloodstained Roof
I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday. The skies were clear this morning, but the temperatures were below zero. I had a scarf wrapped around my mouth and nose because it almost felt like ice crystals were forming. I was walking from my the parking lot to the building I work at. It was about a quarter mile walk since city restrictions prevented a parking garage from being built, so the company compensated by making the parking lot very, very large.
Fortunately the walkway was covered. However, as I walked down the path, I noticed something weird. There were lumps on the ground covered in frost. At first, I thought they were leaves. As I looked a little closer though, I discovered to my horror that they were birds. About a hundred birds, all littering the ground, dead and frosted. They’d taken shelter under the roof in an attempt to escape the cold snap. It was in vain. The frost had killed them.
Ryan Andrews, the writer of the Eisner-nominated Our Bloodstained Roof, taps into the same chilling realization that death is senseless, and how guilt has an unforgiving way of making our lives miserable for the rest of our lives.
The comic is fairly short at only four pages. A group of kids discover that a flock of geese has fallen dead onto the roof of their house, staining it with their blood. The blood is red — obviously — but it is the only color outside of black, white, and shades of gray represented in this comic. The kids want to kive the geese a funeral. Their dad gruffly rejects the idea. He says the bodies are diseased. He gathers the corpses in trash bags and plans to throw them in the city dump the next morning.
The kids, though, are afraid of what might happen if they don’t give the geese the right funeral. Will they come back to life and haunt them as ghosts? They hatch a plan to sneak out in the middle of the night, steal the geese, and give them a proper burial. Their hearts are in the right place, but the consequences of their actions continue to haunt them long after they’ve done the deed.
Some would call this a horror comic. However, it’s only one in the way that Andrews’ previous Eisner-nominated piece, Sarah and the Seed, was a horror comic: the most startling images reside purely in the imagination and the fear of the unknown. I can’t say that at any point did I feel frightened. What I did feel, though, was a sinking sense of melancholy.
Our Bloodstained Roof is a simple, understated story about the effects of guilt. The main thing driving the kids to bury the geese was a sense of guilt that they hadn’t done the right thing when they could. When that was done, though, the guilt was replaced by something else. The guilt of letting someone down, and a bloody red roof that would never let them forget it.
Or, to put it far more succinctly: some days, you just can’t win.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5).