Review: The Life After #2

If you read my review for the first issue then you know that I was going into this issue a bit hesitant. Here’s the thing though, I was ready to admit that I was wrong until the ending of this issue. It wasn’t the visuals that did it either; it was the dialogue and what it revealed. That and this depiction of Ernest Hemingway is by far the most annoying depiction in all of fiction. I would rather watch the version in the Woody Allen film again. This issue could have the subtitle “the life and times of Ernest Hemmingway” if it wanted to because we get an encyclopedia of knowledge about the writer… none of it adds to his character or the plot in case you were wondering.

After learning about Ernest’s death he asks Jude how he off’d himself. He can’t remember and is of course trying to wrap his brain around everything. They spend a lot of time on a bridge in which people are committing suicide from over and over… and over. It’s very disturbing to Jude, but Ernest isn’t bothered in the least. Ernest then gives some exposition about where they are and how everything works. I’ll leave the story there.

The latter half of the story did pick up my interesting, but it was quickly lost again with the ending. The beginning really does just come across as Ernest (and yes I’m going to keep calling him that) laying out the rules of the universe just for our character to break them. The dialogue is stale and Jude is a one-dimensional character at best.

The Life After #2_Page_01The other thing that stuck out to me was that even though this story is about suicide it never once tries to engage in a conversation about it. Especially not a healthy one. Ernest’s re-enactment of his own death is almost comedic and while that may add depth to his personality, it gives this issue a different tonality from the first issue which approached everything very seriously.

The art is good. It’s strangely bright and vibrant for a story that’s taking place in the depths of hell reserved for suicides (or is it a computer program?). It doesn’t drive the story, but rather the art seems to respond directly to the narrative. In my opinion a lot of comic book art falls into two categories (not always, but most before you bite my head off) one in which the dialogue is behind the art, meaning that you look at the art because it’s the action on the page driving the story and the dialogue is secondary to that. The other is that it’s reactive, meaning you read the dialogue first and then look at the art. This series falls into the latter in my opinion. I found myself reading all the dialogue on the page before looking at the art just so that the art would make more sense with what I read.

I might be back for the next issue, but the ending “cliffhanger” was much like the Ernest Hemingway reveal in the first issue and I wasn’t impressed or thrilled by that either. Maybe you’ll like it. I tend to find that Joshua Hale Fialkov’s writing doesn’t resonate with me as much as it does others so it could just be my personal taste that prevents me from enjoying  this series, but  it could also be the fact that it’s trying really hard to be weird and different and I don’t find it to be either.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov Artist: Gabo Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: $3.99 Format: Print/Digital