Written by: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by: Gabo
Published by: Oni Press
After a surprising debut, The Life After is back with Joshua Hale Fialkov penning another zany issue that works quite well with mononym newcomer, the artist currently known as Gabo. This second outing is an interesting chapter which exposes more of the world that the series takes place in. Fialkov opens a heady can of worms with this series and there is still much to be discovered. Gabo captures the manic craziness of a Purgatory gone awry and Ernest Hemingway as a foul-mouthed sidekick.
As is the case with many creator-owned series that tackle intense and philosophical subject matter, this series is going to require patience as the suspense and world build. Fialkov and Gabo have really nailed the early characterization which helps the reader invest in the tale during this tentative period of expository revelation. Using long-tried content of fiction, it’s a miracle that “The Life After #2” manages to feel original. Somehow this creative team has found something to be said about this dead horse that others haven’t, which I believe is due to Fialkov’s atheism at least in part.
The idea that there are no mortal sins and that therefore suicide is not a mortal sin may still be controversial, especially here in North America as far as I know. “The Life After #2” begins to ruminate whether suicide isn’t a thing to be punished, but not something that is “good” either. But this book challenges the status quo and delivers an entertaining story; the addition of Hemingway as the wise-man archetype is a stroke of comedic genius.
Gabo’s work is rendered with thin-but-detailed line work and a style that could be compared to the cover artist, Nick Pitarra. This book still lacks some polish; panels don’t always nail a consistent look for the characters. At the end of the day, any of the shortcomings that this book might have in its construction are more than made up for with its imagination. Gabo has a difficult task before him—outlandish adventure and ridiculous locations—and he manages to pull it together and make the book work.
“The Life After #2” is a book that requires an open mind. It has the power to offend the sensibilities of both those devoutly religious and those stringently atheistic. The book has something to say to someone on either side of that dichotomy, and however you identify this is might be a great book to break up some of the light superhero fare that we all know and love. Gabo is an artist to watch as this book appears to be getting stronger in the visual department. Now taking bets for how long it takes for him to make his Big Two debut!
“The Life After #2” earns 8.0 / 10