4.21.2014

The Life After #1 (WonderCon Variant) [Advance Review]

The Life After #1 (Oni Press): It looks like this book comes out in July, so consider this an Advance Advance Review for the new series from Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo (aka: Gabriel Bautista). Fialkov is hot off of the success of The Bunker (#3 comes out this week!), so I was happy to see more creator owned work debuting in Anaheim this past weekend. Let me first just say that I dig how Oni Press has been handling their con exclusives lately. This was reasonably priced at just $5, and like the black and white preview edition of Letter 44 #1 at SDCC last year, it’s a great way to get the creators in front of fans for signed copies, and an opportunity to get the book out there in critics’ hands in order to generate some buzz months prior to the official release date. This one was limited to just 400 copies at WonderCon and I’m glad I picked up a couple to pass on to friends. It’s really good, narratively different from what’s currently available on the stands, addressing our perceptions (and the ultimate point) of our existence. The story tracks Jude, a sort of everyman just trudging through the rut of his life in the style of The Truman Show or The Matrix, without being cognizant of the fact that there’s a great secret to the world he inhabits, until something of an unplanned glitch comes along. In fact, the way institutional voyeurism is depicted in the book, there might even be two big secrets. I don’t want to spoil too much by giving away the terrific figure in the big reveal at the end, but it’s clever and charming, and I couldn’t help but think of that old Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra movie What Dreams May Come. I wasn’t familiar with Gabo’s art prior to sampling this title, but I definitely enjoyed the small figure scale he works at, and the immense level of detail poured into the panels, the style is somewhere in the nexus of folks like James Stokoe and Ross Campbell, with the detail porn of the former and the softer lines of the latter. There are many great comics still on the horizon for the remainder of 2014, but The Life After looks to be one of the most unique and intriguing. Grade A.

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