The first issue in Mark Millar & Greg Capullo's genre-bending epic engaged readers on a basic, emotional level: the fear of death, the haunting feeling of not knowing what comes next. It was a perfect table setter for this series, riling up deep-seeded emotions in me that left me terrified for when Bonnie crossed over to the great beyond...which is silly because the whole series is like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in that the story starts when the world ends.
This issue picks right up where the previous one left off, with Bonnie joyously reunited with her long-dead father and her pooch Roy-Boy. The trio start back to their homestead, and it's here that the reader really begins to grasp the scope of this series, which is damned ENORMOUS. Big Tom describes how people arrive in the afterlife at various ages, and he goes on to explain that it is so vast a place (ten times the size of Earth) that he still hasn't been able to track down his wife, despite years of constant searching.
We also learn that Bonnie's coming has been foretold, and she's the Chosen One to lead the Adystrians to victory over Lord Golgotha ("the Place of the Skull" for you who did your religion homework) and the inhabitants of the Dark Land (what, you didn't think EVERYBODY ends up in a good place when they die?). I really enjoyed how Millar set up the scale of power here in the afterlife, with people who were good -- self-sacrificing, generous, loving, etc -- are given power to match the output of their kindness.
Before she leads the uprising, Bonnie wants to track down her late husband Harry. Big Tom and Roy-Boy are up for the challenge (they have a month to try and find him), but they have to stop by the Queen of Faeries before their quest can officially kick off.
This is where I felt Millar did an incredible job of covering all the bases of tackling the afterlife: Estelle White, a religious friend of Bonnie's in life, has become a jaded, self-serving faerie queen in the afterlife. She lived her whole life in service of Jesus Christ, and upon dying and finding out that Christianity (in addition to all other religions) wasn't true, that she basically lived her life sacrificing everything in the name of a fictional deity, she snapped. She has dismissed her duties and allowed the Dark Lands to begin attacking Adystria. Her scene is utterly fascinating because she honestly gives no fucks about anyone or anything - what's there to care about now that everything she dedicated her life to is gone?
The last bit of the second issue focuses on introducing us to the previously aforementioned Lord Golgotha, who resembles Tim Curry from the movie "Legend" - a hulking, toothy creature who is all horns and evil schemes. Golgotha is preparing an attack on Bonnie, and has done so with a former pet of hers who still bears a grudge that any one of us can sympathize with.
Make no mistake about it, in terms of the artwork Greg Capullo is doing stuff here that takes the best of his Spawn and Batman work and creating something that nearly defies description: it's hauntingly beautiful, descriptive, and it evokes such an array of emotion that it stands toe-to-toe with Millar's words, which is a tough challenge for any artist.
Capullo's covers have also been fantastic, but the array of talent Millar is bringing on for the variants is just uncanny. For the first issue I picked up Frank Cho's stunning scene, and for the second issue I saw that Friend of the Show Kaare Andrews had done one and I had to have it: he uses black and white to staggering effect, with the single read line on the heart monitor standing out in the background. Andrews' work is a perfect compliment to a book that is almost perfect.
The only qualm I had is that Bonnie is taking this all a bit too in stride, but what the hell do I know? This is a brand new take on what happens when we leave the mortal coil, and in this world Millar and Capullo are the experts. I'm excited to see this story get more fleshed out, to see the motivations behind the peripheral characters, and to just lap up Capullo's art like a sloppy dog.