By Daniel Vlasaty
The Beautiful Death is another book I had never heard of until I saw it pop up on our review list. Maybe I'm just out of the loop. It has been a while since I worked in a shop and had all the important info about every fucking thing happening in the industry right as it was happening. The Beautiful Death is also another book that I jumped right into without knowing a single thing about. It's interesting to read a book like this because I feel like it makes it fresher or something. Like my judgment isn't tainted before I even get to the book if that makes sense. The Beautiful Death is an apocalypse book, and in all honesty, if I knew that beforehand, I might not have even started to read it. Because I'm kind of tired of apocalypse books. There's just been a lot of them lately, and at times I feel like I need a break from the end of the world.
But like I said, I did not know this before I started reading The Beautiful Death. This is the first issue. It's the first issue of the apocalypse book so it's mostly just getting to know the setting and the characters. There is some vague indication of what happened before, why most of the humans in this city – and probably the whole world – are dead. But we are not given that information just yet. Just that it has something to do with insects. Which is intriguing to me. Which leads me to imagine all kinds of different possibilities that could involve insects and the end of the world.
Like I kind of hope it's literally just some normal ass bugs that revolted and took over the world. Or whatever. Just like a fuck-ton of spiders and gnats and centipedes and those roly-poly bugs got together and decided to fuck up the human race. Although I've got a feeling that that's probably not the case. I have a feeling they're insects from outer space. Maybe even Mars. And this is because two of the characters are talking about a movie where bugs take over the world and they're arguing about where the bugs come from, and one of the characters thinks it's Mars.
I don't know. I think that this might be the problem I have with "end of the world" stories. It's a subject that's been done to death and even when you think maybe this book or that creator or whatever can do something really interesting and different and unique, it never ends of working out like that. Most apocalyptic books, in my opinion, end up taking the safe way to the end of the world. Things never end up getting too crazy or "out there."
But it's still too early to tell how The Beautiful Death is going to handle the end of the world. What I will say, though, is so far it's got a pretty decent set-up. Three people alone in a city, scrounging for food, looking for other survivors, trying to avoid the insects. The main problem I have with the story so far is that I kind of find every character (all three of them!) super fucking annoying. But I think that might be the point. I think it might show that they're just human. That they're acting like most other humans would act in a shit situation like this one. Think about it: If you were one of three people left in the city/world/whatever and the other two happened to be your loved ones, close friends or whatever, I'm sure there would come a time when you'd probably start to fucking hate each other something fierce. You just can't spend that much time, in that high-stress of a situation, and not hate each other. Even a little. The problem, though, is this isn't the real world. It's a comic book, and the characters spent a little too much time bickering and just being annoying for my liking. None of them gave me anything to latch onto. But, like most of the books I review, this is only the first issue. Hopefully, they'll grow up or at least stop bickering in the coming issues.
I'm not familiar with Mathieu Bablet. He both writes and illustrates The Beautiful Death. I did enjoy the art for the most part. The characters are kind of boring and without many features, but I thought he killed it on the backgrounds and scenery. They are rich and dense and desolate. They are perfect, and they are probably my favorite part of the book as a whole. The colors are also something that stands out to me. They have a watercolor/digital feel, and I think they add to the feel of the book. The Beautiful Death takes place in an abandoned city, and the beige and tan and gray colors are taking over. There is almost nothing green or living. Which only adds to the feeling of isolation and death that haunts the pages of this book.
All in all, The Beautiful Death is not a bad book. There wasn't anything about it that I outright hated or anything like that. But it just didn’t blow me away either. And it's also almost impossible to tell what kind of book it's going to become from this initial issue. If it's going to be good or bad. Issue #1 just kind of ends, leaving us hanging there. I'm not sure if it's enough to hold me until the second issue comes out. As I said, the one thing this book has going for it is the art, mainly the setting and backgrounds. Also, it's got a great fucking title. But there's the mystery of the insects that has me slightly intrigued. It's probably enough to get me to come back to it again. At least for another issue. Maybe this next one will make it easier to decide if it's worth it or not.
The Beautiful Death #1