written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Another day in paradise; in a meticulously controlled city lives a fairly ordinary man. He wakes up as the sun rises (like clockwork), gets on the bus, goes to his dead end job, eats a sandwich, sees a lady drop a handkerchief, pretty much trudging through his days before barely making it to bed. Of course nothing is what it seems in this city, why is everything so routine? When wondering if something is coincidence or orchestrated, such the sun rises at the same time (to the minute) every day, one can’t help but lean towards the notion that something is amiss. This is the life of our as yet unnamed protagonist in the forthcoming new series The Life After written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Gabo.
One day he decides to break his routine and chases after the lady who drops her handkerchief daily to return said dropped handkerchief, such a simple action sets forth a string of events the man can’t even hope to comprehend. It’s here that the biggest revelation of this book takes place, setting the stage for what sounds like the rest of the series will be. I won’t spoil it too much for you guys but it was something I did not expect, I was thinking aliens or some kind of dystopian “Matrix” like future, but the reveal that in fact this infinitely scheduled city was in fact the afterlife left me reeling. Of course I could have been smart and drew clues from the book’s title The Life After, but I was thinking that was more symbolism or prose, I did not expect it would be that literal.
These “AH HA!” moments feel rare in number ones, the first issue of most new series tend to stick to the safe routes of setting up characters or introducing the world, granted they did introduce the world, but the nature of that world was more than I had even expected. Feels like this city given a formulaic number is just as much a character as the dearly departed denizens that populate it.
The writing is smart, at first you pity the guy for having such a mundane life, but as the narrative reveals the true nature of the world, I found myself rooting for the guy. Not having recollection of a crazy night out can be one thing, but when it involves your death, it can present a morbidly pressing sense of self-actualization. How did I die? Where did I die? Hopefully they continue to explore these questions as the series continues.
Gabo paints this world in stark shades of blue and grey, yellowish lighting illuminates the city streets. Even our protagonist is nothing special, he simply looks like some random dude you'd see on the street. In contrast, the control room housing men who seem to act as conductors (ergo… vis-à-vis… concordantly….) for the world are presented in a dark room with bright green lights emanating from their monitors (this lent to my initial “Matrix” like hypothesis). The art style is interesting though a bit maddening, the characters that populate this world stem from a mix of people of different timelines and also folks who look like spacemen or aliens. I don’t know what to expect from this colorful cast of tertiary characters, but I’m curious to know more.
The Life After isn’t out yet, the rest of the world will have to wait until July to read the book, but this is a definite must buy and I hope you will check it out when it hits comic book shops later this summer.
The Life After
by Joshua Hale Fialkov & Gabo
Publisher: Oni Press
Cover Price: $4.99
Available: July 2014