I finished reading Image Comics A.D. After Death #1 about 20 minutes ago. I've been sitting here, staring at my screen for 20 minutes, deciding how to review this book.
Like ... how in the actual fuck do I review something that just changed the way I look at an entire medium?
How do I review a book that in the first issue, impacted me so much?
Fuck it. Here goes nothing. Pre-apologies to our editor Ben, this one might be a mess of raw emotions.
This is one of the single most intensely personal books I've ever read while still being a work of fiction. Jonah Cooke is our protagonist, and in his own words, "a no one". But you get the feeling while reading this first of three prestige installments, that there's something much more to our main character.
Snyder opens with a scene from Jonah's childhood in 1982, and sets the emotional hooks in deep from the outset. It's a story of a botched family vacation, something we've all experienced. Mom and Dad frustrated, kid bored stupid and suddenly, a singular fun event changes everything. Yet at the same time ... it changes nothing.
Snyder goes on to set us up with where Jonah is now, literally HUNDREDS of years in the future. And we learn more about Cooke as a person. We learn his fears and we know he has plan. What that plan is, we'll wait to see, but we know it starts "today".
There was never a single doubt in my mind that Scott Snyder was one of the great writers of our time. And after speaking with him, knowing how his writing is an outlet for his own inner struggles, this book was a squeeze on my heart muscles. The way Scott writes Jonah's anxiety, his fear, his self-doubt....Fuck. e. At one point, the questions are posed "DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE THIS?! Are you alone? Are you just messed up?" and you want to SCREAM at the pages NO, YOU'RE NOT ALONE AND WE'RE ALL MESSED UP! WE'RE ALL FUCKING TRAIN WRECKS LIKE THIS, SCOTT/JONAH!!
For the record, I did not actually scream at a book.
But it was close.
This book also features incredible artwork from Jeff Lemire. Jeff has been a favorite of mine for a long time and his stuff in this tome is a perfect compliment to the story. Late in the story, Jonah meets what is an old friend and possibly more in Inez. She's staring out at these storms, claiming she's seeing a new color.
Frankly, I'm pretty sure Jeff Lemire made a brand new color for this book. Stunning. Gorgeous. Brilliant.
Another piece of the art that stands out to me is the eyes. The eyes on characters in this book are incredibly busy. Some so active and alive while others seem to be sunken and struggling. Lemire uses this so well.
OH, and can I get a hell yeah for Steve Wands, who lettered this book? It's one of those details that I love in books that cross from good to great and Wands nails it.
FINAL RATING: 10/10 1990 Sony Quads
The last book I read that moved me like this was Steve Orlando's Virgil. This isn't a comic book. This is the new way we should tell stories. This is personal. And raw. And beautiful. And fucking perfect.
Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, Steve. And thank you Image, for making this book.