Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Illustrations & Colors by Gabo
Published by Oni Press
Release Date: 07/09/2014
Way back in April I obtained an advance copy of ‘The Life After’ (Early Termination Edition). I reviewed it for Comic Addiction back then and now a little over two months later, the first issue finally hits stands this week. From the creative mind of Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker, Ultimate FF), with illustrations by up and coming artist Gabo, the new creator owned ongoing series from Oni Press is being described as a fantasy/horror tale that asks the question, “What if Hunter S. Thompson wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”
There is nothing sexy about the way this book starts off. There aren’t any big action sequences or real dramatic hooks, and there is no suspense or excitement whatsoever. Instead we are reminded of just how mundane and routine our existence can be. In the first few pages it seems as if our protagonist is stuck in his own personal groundhog day, only darker and far more depressing. To me it was a reminder of the seriousness of mental illness and how some can struggle to deal with the repetition and despondency of everyday life, while others are simply able to cope. Fialkov and Gabo do a remarkable job displaying and making evident these repetitious patterns with desolate commentary and panel after panel of monotonous illustrations.
Where our story starts to really get intriguing is when our main character decides to finally break that monotony. A possible manic depressant with an obvious anti-social personality, he momentarily overcomes his fears in an act of generosity with perhaps the hopes and possibilities of a romantic companionship in mind. What happens instead is a surreal chain of events that transcends both reality and time. The events that begin to unfold can only be described as unorthodox, but with an honest dose of some of the harsh occurrences we see in life on a daily basis. We see an overcrowded city in a state of decay, poverty, drug use, and the brutally violent reality that is sexual assault. Yet there is much more going on behind the scenes that brings with it another element to this first issue and hopefully to the entire series.
As things continue to unfold, with it come strange anomalies like time shifts where we see the surroundings change from a modern-day setting to one more reminiscent of the American Frontier period. Also changing are the inhabitants as it seems apparent that we have beings from different eras of time and from different parts of the world existing together in one collective. The conclusion is not exactly original, but it has a fascinating twist that is sure to catch most off guard.
“The Life After” was an absolute pleasure to read and completely exceeded my expectations. It is an extraordinary tale that starts off by exploring the dark world of depression but with bizarre and supernatural overtones added to it that just work. Relatively unknown (to me) Gabo leaves his mark with vivid and astonishing illustrations that are most impressive. Fialkov and his creative team have put together an absolutely stunning first issue that is unparalleled and should immediately be added to everyone’s pull list.
REVIEW: THE LIFE AFTER #1
Peter Rodriguez (Geek Sushi)
Imaginative master story-telling from Fialkov supported by remarkable illustrations from Gabo.
May be a bit depressing for some.