by Joshua Hale Fialkov & Gabo
As of the final pages of last issue, The Life After introduced a new character and expanded the territory it would include in this tale of the afterlife. Dealing with characters that exist in Purgatory presented an interesting area to explore, and even further when it became clear that these individuals were specifically those who had died by suicide. But Fialkov’s inclusion of the being at the end of The Life After #2 certainly enters new territory. Now, as Jude and Hemingway plan their next steps carefully, the men in the control room have taken their response to a new level.
The beginning of issue three actually revisits the beginning of time and the start of everything. Gabo renders a series of dark clouds followed by a full page spread of blinding light. It is an almost wordless sequence that is followed by some being emerging. What follows is a trip through time that borders on a revisionist telling of the events of the bible and the eras that would follow. It’s questionable territory to rework, but Fialkov is not shying away from anything in this story about death and the afterlife. Gabo’s rendering of the being that is to be considered “God” pays it no compliments, and it makes for a very strange opening act. The Foreman and God are deciding how to solve the problem of Jude and there are suggestions that Jude, himself, may be a god-like individual.
The story jumps back to Jude and Hemingway and readers continue to learn more about this world of Purgatory. The blending of a control room that feels like part Truman Show part The Matrix with religion, the afterlife and Ernest Hemingway continues to provide a number of unexpected and entertaining sequences. One of the most interesting is when Jude is able to show Hemingway what the world really appears to be. It touches on an interesting concept with the two characters. While Hemingway had already broken free, Jude seems to have more abilities. In some ways this makes Hemingway’s character less special as Jude not only escapes the cycle, but can see and do more. However, with the nod that Jude may be a descendent of God, it begs the question of how Hemingway was able to break the cycle. While this is not a pressing thread in the plot, it exists in the background, and further proves the number of directions and layers that exist in this story.
As the issue advances, readers are introduced to a concept born out of the inconsistency of the bible and the history of mankind. If people existed before the savior, where would their souls rest? Gabo presents readers with this world’s version of angels, or Seraphim, and they are not the pleasant beings that readers may expect. Instead, the winged creatures are the soldiers of God and in a quick panel, Gabo shows readers what they really look like. It is a brief interaction, but it is likely that as Jude continues to work against this system that these creatures will come into play more often. Visually, the story has some fantastic moments, and Gabo’s choices make them all the better. The climax of the sequence in the caves, and the reveal Jude passes on to Hemingway are two of the best visual moments in the story thus far.
Next issue looks to be as interesting as the story has been so far as the Foreman has been granted the ability to handle this situation on his own and has chosen to negotiate with “the man from downstairs.” As the world building continues, and Fialkov introduces more characters it will be very exciting to see what lies ahead.