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The Life After #1

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by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo

Joshua Fialkov has been making waves this past year in comics. Not only has he been instrumental in some recent major events in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, but he also launched a creator-owned and self-published series with Joe Infunari entitled The Bunker. That series was picked up by ONI after a few issues, and right on its heels, Fialkov has launched a new series with artist Gabo with the same publisher. The new series continues to showcase the range of Fialkov with an interesting new idea and an engaging first issue.

As The Life After opens, readers are introduced to the morning routine of the main character. It is a familiar sequence that highlights the repetitious routine that a large portion of the adult population wades through on a regular basis. Wake. Coffee. Commute. Work. Commute. Sleep. Interspersed in this opening series is some strange images that let on something else may be amiss. Gabo does an excellent job portraying this loop-like scenario in an amazing 50-panel, two-page spread. And then there is a disruption. The lead, longing for some human connection, finally decides to break routine and make an attempt to interact with a woman he has only ever seen in passing as she exits the bus. This is when the story really jumps.

It should be no secret what the major aspect of the story pertains to as the book’s title is a pretty significant hint. However, Fialkov certainly finds ways to pull the rug out a few times in this opening issue. From the time the man chooses to break routine, the series also portrays some of its most intriguing art. Gabo plays with the coloring and backgrounds to depict a sense of disruption. Readers will be presented with flashes of strange imagery with little context, and in that way Gabo and Fialkov put the reader in the same place as the lead insofar as what is known and what is not. Suddenly, the story moves its characters into a completely different place all together and readers will be desperately trying to organize all of these images into a sensible and understandable narrative. It is dizzying, but intentionally so and it is a fantastic technique to engage a new audience.

Gabo is clever in the way that he inserts clues and images into the story in seemingly nondescript panels, but it makes for a good argument as to why this book should be read twice. There is a lot on the page presented in an understated way. By the end of the first issue, there will be a number of questions circling any reader’s head. Fialkov and Gabo certainly deliver an impressive first chapter in their new story and it carries a significant confidence that there is much more to come.

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