by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo
It has come to a point where readers of The Life After expect some new direction of absurdity with each new issue. Be it the terrifying seraphim, the reveal of a potato god or an old deity in the form of a giant rabbit, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo seem to be having a blast developing and playing in this incredibly colorful and strange world. With The Foreman attempting to make a deal with the man from down stairs, and a child army prepping a rebellion, the stakes were high for issue eight. And while the book definitely offers some interesting new bits, this chapter feels a bit less thrilling than those previous.
The events of The Life After #8 come off as a bit subdued or quieter. In this chapter, Hemingway and Jude part ways as the story’s lead is unwilling to accept this new reality as their ultimate goal, and Hemingway finds he is quite okay with what he faces. In a bit of comedy, Jude shouts at him the obviousness of the situation and, to readers, the visuals are much more than slight hints to support Jude’s take. However, the old writer gives in to the pleasures and Jude finds himself alone and facing something equally unassuming, yet terrible. The being has shown up in the past few issues, though his appearance has mostly been cloaked or masked. Here, the man reveals himself and the scene that plays out is an interesting one. Fialkov continues to include hints at the larger story with mentions of past history or terms like “reorganizers.” At each stage of world building, the story grows all the more intriguing. Here, the pieces readers are presented are small and unclear. Though there is definitely great content to the sequence, as Jude is presented with a rather appealing offer, little more is learned.
The inclusion and exploration of new environments and situations has been part of almost every chapter thus far. Even when it is not explained, these introductions to new creatures or story elements keep the story in flux. This fluidity and unpredictability have been a source of entertainment. While issue eight is well crafted, it spends a lot of time between Jude’s conversation and Hemingway’s new-found paradise. Early on in the issue, Gabo delivers a few pages depicting Hell. The scenes are filled with awful creatures, fire and unrest. It is savage and unpleasant. A man sits, bored and unmoved by the alert that some of the occupants are trying to rise up. While it is likely that the story will eventually spend more time with this, the issue leaves the moment rather quickly. Similar to this strange and engaging opening, the story closes incredibly strong. After a few pages of dialogue, the momentum returns before Gabo and Fialkov leave readers with an image that is sure to meet some of the most bizarre and memorable panels that have occurred thus far.
The Life After #8 is still a good issue. As with any impressive series, a bar is set that makes a good issue feel less so. Due to some of the most unexpected scenes, sequences and designs unfolding in nearly every issue to date, this chapter does not hit as hard as the others. That being said, issue eight is a necessary and interesting piece of the puzzle. There are some very strange moments that occur in the book, and one part that is entertainingly frustrating. One of the longer scenes, as Jude talks with a man from Hell, Fialkov finds a way to lead the reader along entirely before showing his hand. When it happens, readers will recognize how obvious is should have been all along. It is a fun moment that certainly highlights the skill of the writer. Likewise, Gabo is able to, yet again, create some creatures that are simultaneously intriguing and awful. Somehow, the aesthetics that Gabo utilizes in his construction of these beings, from line work to coloring, end up giving off a tone that feels repulsive. Though any being that is supposedly from Hell should appear as such, Gabo has a way of accomplishing this that is unlike any other interpretation.
While The Life After #8 feels a slight bit subdued, the chapter is filled with pieces of what is coming. The creators show, yet again, just how much fun they are having in the production of the story. Using the issue’s tease of an ending as an indication of what lies ahead, readers can count on The Life After #9 attempting to top everything that has unfolded so far.