Creators: Stormcrow Hayes, Rob Steen
Publisher: TokyoPop
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror
RRP: $9.99
Afterlife v1
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

“The Afterlife is disintegrating and nobody knows how long it will be before its population – everyone who has ever died on Earth – is forever lost in the great ether. Thaddeus, a guardian in the afterlife, becomes obsessed with discovering an answer to the meaning of life and death. His best friend Mercutio is distracted by his search for his beloved Arrabella. And as the decay around them intensifies, an encounter with a mysterious girl will lead to a search for what it truly means to be dead . . .”

Afterlife attempts to explain for us where we all go when we die, and the answer turns out to be a place quite similar to Earth – except without all the cool stuff. Dead people can’t still be hurt in the Afterlife, they can still feel pain and misery and all kinds of emotions, and can still, uh, die again. The biggest difference is that they retain the form they were last in when they died, regarding age and physical health, or lack thereof. In other words, it’s just a kind of purgatory that previews an even worse fate, but it’s not really purgatory either. Whatever the Afterlife is, it’s a bit wonky in the logic department.

But beneath this fractured premise is an interesting story that’s more sci-fi than horror, about Thaddeus and his guardian friends, who reluctantly fight to maintain the physical integrity of the Afterlife. In fact, Thaddeus and co. seem to agree with the readers that the existence of the Afterlife doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and despite similarities to Neo’s quest in the Matrix, he intends to uncover the biggest picture.

The narrative gives a gradual introduction to the landscape and stakes while featuring some clever cameos by historical figures. Since anyone who’s ever lived exists in the Afterlife, guest appearances abound. Of course, these people rely on a solid depiction by the artist, and Steen does a striking job. Despite the weak cover, the art soars in the black and white interiors with an assortment of expressive faces and inspired creature designs. The storytelling from panel to panel is a little shaky but the splash pages more than make up for it.

When the characters themselves question their own surroundings, it’s hard for the readers to get too attached. The mysteries and subplots are engrossing enough to give the next volume a chance to build greater momentum.

5 July 2007
Tsubasa v2

4 July 2007
Love*Com v1

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