Posted June 26, 2014 by Julius Sambo in Comics

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Fialkov and Gabo’s The Life After #1 Delivers a Dynamic Debut

The Life After Issue 1 Cover

Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist/Colors: Gabo
Publisher: Oni Press
Release: July 2014

Building up on nothing but the seemingly incessant familiarity and monotony in the day to day life of the still unnamed protagonist, the debut issue of Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo’s The Life After opens up into a world of limitless stories, of countless souls drifting, and, in the grander scheme of things, into a world of an infinite number of lives wandering and waiting. Welcome to the afterlife, I guess?

As debut issues go, The Life After is off to a good start. We are introduced to a rather uninteresting character who lives his life in a repetitive and consistent manner. He wakes up, goes to work, journeys back home, and falls asleep, to wake up and do the same thing all over again. There is no immediate action, no adrenaline rush, no edge-of-your-sit-thriller kind of feeling. We are merely observers to the pseudo-simulated reality that is our protagonist’s life. So, when do things get interesting? That’s when the handkerchiefs start falling, and everything else just ends up doing the same. Welcome to the point of no return, a place filled with infinite sadness and drug-addled bus drivers. Again, welcome to the afterlife.

The story extends itself beyond the life of our seemingly uninformed protagonist as the story progresses into a series of touch-induced montages of life, or dare I say, death. Through a simple touch, the unnamed man of the hour is able to see a person’s circumstance of death, and that’s when the fun starts. The world that Fialkov has created is not merely one that exists in a single period of time and location, it transcends way beyond that. This is where the past meets the present meets the future. This is the afterlife after all. Fialkov plotted the issue with the attempt to slowly interject the mythos of the world he has created as well as to layout its foundations without giving too much away that it ends up as spoon-feeding, or giving too little that it ends up as  a confusing mess. This is an afterlife with robots, aliens, Mexican wrestlers, a gun-toting man-sized mouse, and just about everything you can think of. The afterlife that Fialkov has designed is certainly an interesting one filled with things that are seemingly amiss.

Fialkov’s writing style is very consistent. There is no feeling of alienation, and despite all the craziness, he is able to evoke a sense of familiarity. Story wise, Fialkov has proven time and time again that he is able to create masterful and innovative crafts resulting from original and non-derivative ideas. The first issue sets up an interesting precedent enough to make me wish the next issue was here already. Expect to be in for the long haul. Fialkov certainly has a masterpiece in the making in his hands.

Liking Gabo’s art, at least the way I see it, is an acquired taste. Fans of clean looking pages and multidimensional looking figures could be easily let down by Gabo’s liberal use of wavering lines and loose outlines. I admit, he’s no Jim Lee, Tony Daniel, or Adam Hughes, but we’re not gunning for highly detailed realism and distinctive structure here. This is an afterlife with all these quirky looking creatures and unexplained circumstances after all. Gabo’s art is reminiscent of Nick Pittara’s, just with a lesser attention to detail and a toned down amount of squiggly lines in random places. However, what Gabo lacks in the distinctiveness and structure department he makes up for in the way he portrays emotion. Every feeling that the characters are supposed to convey is beautifully articulated by Gabo’s art. Whether it may be disgust, fear, loathing, excitement or indifference, Gabo is able to portray these emotions effortlessly. Furthermore, Gabo pays a lot of attention to the background. Simple panels are accentuated by a discernible, but not at all too distracting scenery. Another point of merit goes to Gabo’s colouring. It hits all the right cues and is able to give a sense of depth and darkness to certain panels—top notch colouring that can rival FCO Plascencia’s best works on Invincible and Batman.

The Life After #1 is as good as any debut issues go. It has a fresh story going with it and enough fuel to keep the roaring fire going. Reading The Life After is like asking myself, “Will I be getting the next issue?”

Definitely. Like I said, Fialkov and Gabo may have a masterpiece in their hands. Let’s just all hope that all the right pieces fall into place. Ha.

That’s it I guess. Welcome to the afterlife, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Julius Sambo

Julius spends his free time reading comic books, listening to audio books, watching countless cancelled TV shows, and pretending that he's some kind of sci-fi loving guy (He hasn't seen Star Wars! Gasp!). He likes to create things, loves 90% of baked products, he hates Math, and his one dream is to go to space.