Among the many comics that debuted last summer, The Life After was definitely one of the most original to hit the shelves. The series is written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, author of The Bunkers, Tumors, and The Devilers (which I also review), and illustrated by Gabo, artist behind Charley Loves Robots and Albert the Alien. The two-man creative team definitely came up with a unique concept for this series and ran with it and now the first five issues have been consolidated to create the series’ first volume, which goes on sale this week. So is it good?
The Life After Vol. 1 (Oni Press)
Let’s start with what it’s about. The Life After chronicles the monotonous goings on of a man named Jude whose days seem strangely repetitive and dull, each one fading into the next. However one day Jude takes it upon himself to break this cycle and, in doing so, discovers what his life (or rather lack thereof) has become. Jude finds that he is has been trapped in a level of purgatory specifically designed for those who committed suicide. Gifted with a strange ability to glimpse at the deceased’s final moments, Jude and Hemingway (Yes, the Ernest Hemingway) set out to free the individuals confined to their strict and unbeknownst prisons. However, now labeled renegades, the will have to flee the omnipotent powers that control the Afterlife system, both celestial and demonic.
Fialkov has really outdone himself with this one, creating a new and truly bizarre universe. The concept and dynamic of the series are intriguing, blending comedic, surrealist, theological, and science fiction themes into one. While at a glance The Life After is superficially lighthearted, it does involve some very deep and transcendent topics, but still manages to make you laugh multiple times each issue. One of my favorite movies is Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and this comic reminded me of it. Not the subject matter, but the use of both fantasy and science fiction elements which come together seamlessly.
Gabo, or Gabriel Bautista, is a perfect fit for this book with his animated and almost whimsical artistic style. Gabo does a great job of utilizing color and facial expressions are on point. He has large range of ability to where he can draw warm soft images on one panel and then immediately draw a horde of rotting bodies on the other.
Is It Good?
The only glaring problem with this book is that you’ll now feel obligated to read the entire series. The Life After makes time slow down in between issues and it’s one of those series that has you looking forward to comic book Wednesdays. This fantastical Matrix-esque storyline is one of the most entertaining and addictive reads you’ll come across. I’m now a dedicated fan of the series and will be adding the series to my list.