It’s been a long road to first issue of Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire’s AD: After Death. Originally announced as a graphic novel set to release in the fall of 2015, the book slipped passed that planned publication date and seemed to disappear from everyone’s radar. Rumors began to swirl that the graphic novel had been reshaped into an ongoing series, but Image Comics stayed quiet and many of us wondered if the book would ever reach our hands, in any form at all. Well, the wait is over, and AD: After Death, the first of three prestige format issues, is hitting this fall. The good news is, this first issue certainly points to the series having been worth the wait, even if it feels like too small a piece of a larger story.
Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are two of the biggest creators in the comic industry these days. Separately, they have created some of modern comics’ best works, so the idea of them working together is enough to get any comic fan excited. The thing is, AD: After Death #1 is not exactly a comic book. Sure, there are plenty of pages of comic book storytelling in this issue, but a huge chunk of this issue is prose with accompanying pictures. It’s like a picture book for adults.
Snyder’s prose is incredibly strong, and Lemire’s minimalist art is beautiful. But it’s a strange format for a single issue, even an oversized one like this. It definitely feels like you are reading the opening of a graphic novel rather than an episodic chapter of a sequential art monthly. The ending comes abruptly and without a big cliffhanger; it seems almost as though AD: After Death was constructed as a standalone piece and then chopped into three parts.
All that said, AD: After Death #1 is a wonderfully unique and engaging experience. We spend the bulk of this issue getting to know our main character, and it’s time well spent. We can’t stress enough how fantastic Snyder’s prose is in company with Lemire’s art. It really is an experience unlike any other comic out there and that is something to be admired. While the full scope of the story is incredibly difficult to grasp in this first issue, Snyder and Lemire keep you deeply captivated with the life of Jonah Cook.
Reading AD: After Death is a haunting and beautiful experience. Lemire’s art often has a dream-like quality, floating like smoke through the page. During the books’ extended flashback, Snyder and Lemire create an ethereal structure, a world that always seems a moment away from collapse. There’s truly something personal about AD: After Death #1, and we can only hope that continues on through the other books in the series. There is simply nothing else like this on the shelf and that’s a good thing.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Featured Image: Image Comics