Bolero’s Multiverse Is More Meta Than It Seems

The following contains spoilers for Image Comics’ Bolero

Bolero (by Wyatt Kennedy, Luana Vecchio, and Brandon Graham) is a limited, artful comic from Image Comics. The story revolves around Devyn, the main character, and her relationship with Natasha. After a nasty breakup courtesy of Devyn’s alcoholism, a comic trope in its own right, the Korean-American protagonist hops across the multiverse, meeting Natasha in varying capacities throughout realities. Eventually, however, she begins to realize that the relationship between the two can never really be, and Devyn moves on. slowly. Painfully. Falteringly. But she does move on.

In the words of writer Wyatt Kennedy, however, Bolero was “never about the multiverse.” It’s a plot device to tell readers how not to make mistakes through the character of Devyn. Various media use this device differently, but here it is escapism. In trying to find her way to love, Devyn stops seeing the multiverse for its intended use and begins to look at it as a way to enjoy herself and run from her problems. In doing so, Kennedy takes readers to task for their expectations of entertainment and how it can prove detrimental for them to view it as the end-all, be-all of life.

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Bolero Takes Devyn’s Multiverse To Higher Highs and Rock Bottom

Devyn’s first trip into the multiverse takes place at a particularly bad time in her life. She has lost her lover and her job. A one-night stand introduces her to a sort of in-between space where she meets a cat familiar that transports her to other domains a limited amount of times. In the second issue, Devyn quickly runs down her count of jumps, meeting up with Natasha in several worlds and losing her every time. In the end, She begins a relationship with a music teacher. He helps her to heal and cradles her when she breaks down, helping her find herself now that she is willing to do so.

That is until Devyn almost destroys her life. She sleeps with her longtime best friend of her while on a bender, coming out on the other end and fearing that she had lost both her friend and her partner of her. It’s then, however, that the story truly hits its crux. Devyn comes into possession of another key and, in spite of being instructed to not jump more than the prescribed number of times, Devyn does just that, and it very nearly ends her life.

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Devyn Serves As a Reader Running from Life

Devyn begins her life swap to help her heal, and, taking this as the “entertainment is a shelter allegory,” she begins using it well and right. Much as art and entertainment can be a shelter and a guide for healing so too does Devyn use her leap into the multiverse to understand that she can move on. She can be better. She can heal. She takes time to learn and grow, and the universes help her. When the pill becomes difficult to swallow is when she tries to recede into it again and reside in it.

After making a mistake, the sort of which she has now learned to deal with, Devyn decides to run again, receding into her world of entertainment and escapism. She takes the key to the multiverse from her friend de ella, meaning that she is stuck dealing with the consequences of what Devyn has done. Instead of using the lessons, she has learned, Devyn tries to run again.

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She has lost a large part of her life, and she is alone and sad. Then, when she tries to run once more, her face de ella is bloodied, and she is dying, longing for one chance to make change. When she traverses the multiverse, she manages to come face-to-face with her younger self, as many people wish they could do. However, she realizes that she does n’t want to say anything that will influence what the young Devyn does with her life beyond saying that it’s okay to not forgive her abuser, a lesson learned by other comic leads. Rather, Devyn has finally realized that the only one whom she truly needed to love was herself.

Thus ends the comic, with Devyn going back to finally make up and deal with her consequences. While her life de ella was well-informed by the multiverse (her stories de ella), she did not need to be stuck there to process it. Likewise, in a world full of disasters and horrible histories coming to light, people don’t need to recede into themselves. Rather, it is best for all parties if people just try to understand how to make themselves and the world better. In doing this, Bolero promises that there may be hope for a bright, happy future. The multiverse awaits; Just don’t wield it with abandon.

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