The Life After #5 introduces a major player in the game, while reintroducing a character from the very first installment. Is it good?
The Life After #5 (Oni Press)
Following the shock of the last book where Nettie had somehow been pulled back into Purgatory from Heaven, Joshua Hale Fialkov begins The Life After #5 by filling the reader in on what has happened to Nettie since Jude sent her skyward. One would think after reading four books, the reader would be prepared for some curveballs out of strange field. However, there are no curveballs; Gabo is upfront with the strange, depicting a husband’s face in a state of melting and one of the most grotesque babies you will lay your eyes on. The beauty of this initial sequence is how it actually does surprise you. You are prepared for the strange, but not the sinister and evil which follows.
Following the opening sequence, there is an excellent emotional scene with Nettie, where Gabo is able to portray her as broken and defeated, mourning the loss of her daughter Esmerelda, to a panel of joy as she remembers her daughter’s smile, and finally to one of vengeance as she vows to punish those who have taken her child and especially the man who sent her on the journey in the first place! Gabo is able to capture the emotional whirlpool that afflicts us when faced with a tragic loss.
The main action sequence is also quite enjoyable with a fantastic monster creation. Not only is the demon’s true form a behemoth to behold, but Gabo’s ability to portray her as she shifts to and from her humanoid form is truly interesting. It is almost as if the demon’s bulk is melting off the humanoid form. He also uses the lighting to great effect to create a higher sense of tension. Gabo uses dark purples and blues to create a midnight purple, making the panels much darker to coincide with the threat to Jude. The darkness is expunged with an explosion of color that is truly beautiful to look at.
During the sequence, the writing and dialogue are tense. It is a life or death situation, but for some reason Fialkov decides to end the sequence on a rather comedic note that takes away from the gravity of the situation and the fear the demon was able to generate. Instead the demon is diminished and tossed aside.
The book ends with a nice little surprise, as Fialkov keeps readers on their toes. Because if you thought you had an idea of where the series was going, Fialkov reminds you that you really don’t and Purgatory is much larger than you could have imagined!
Is It Good?
Fialkov and Gabo continue to produce an enjoyable albeit strange take on the afterlife. The two are able to capture the human emotions of loss perfectly in Nettie’s monologue and Gabo’s artwork. Gabo’s art was a definite highlight with an intriguing monster creation, especially when it’s shifting to and from humanoid form. However, there were some slip ups with an odd comedic ending to the demon’s demise.
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