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"Afterlift" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Dark Horse Comics

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Written by Chip Zdarsky
Illustrated by Jason Loo
Colored by Paris Alleyne
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
2021, 135 Pages
Graphic novel released on February 3rd, 2021

Review:

Janice Chen is a ride-share driver and used to dealing with weird passengers and run-ins with her parents, but she's never had a fare like this before. The destination? Hell itself. She's been tasked with transporting a soul to the great beyond, putting a target on her and her vehicle from the likes of demon bounty hunters.

Afterlift hits with an undeniable hook and only gets better from there. Writer Chip Zdarsky wastes no time introducing us to Janice and this world. We very quickly understand her life and where she's coming from, making her current predicament all the more harrowing and intriguing. The book could have just coasted on the premise alone and been fine, however it's made all the better with our investment in Janice as a character.

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This book is perfectly paced across its five chapters as the stakes get higher with each turn of the page. All the while, Zdarsky builds the story further until we get to the jaw-dropping climax. There's no space wasted in this story as everything contributes to the overall plot and development of the characters. I love how there are seeds of information dropped here and there to grab your attention that eventually bear fruit in very satisfying ways.

Artist Jason Loo creates a horror thriller in Afterlift. It's tough to convey something like a car chase in comics, yet Loo does it perfectly here. You understand how fast Janice is moving and how dangerous her attackers are based on the layouts, angles, and imagery.

The demon bounty hunters have a unique design, inspired by Indonesian demon masks Loo's uncle had displayed in his house when he was growing up. This gives them a wholly original look, not like your traditional creatures from the underworld. Letterer Aditya Bidikar adds to this with an ancient looking font in red-outlined word balloons instead of the traditional “evil” style of black balloons with white font. This lends itself to the otherworldly shift in tone the series takes once the ride begins.

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I especially like the look of Janice's fare, Dumu. He appears human at first, but there are elements of his demonic form in the design that are revealed as we get closer to Hell. You can tell right away that you can't trust him. There's something slimy about him that shines through even as a human.

Colorist Paris Alleyne creates a specific tone for each segment of Afterlift, shifting from the cool blues of a normal evening to the fires of Hell when Dumu enters the vehicle. As Janice's journey takes her deeper into the underworld, the palette shifts to darker shades, as hope of survival begins to dwindle. This shifts once more with the finale as Janice's final destination is revealed.

Afterlift is a wholly unique horror thriller. It has high-stakes action, terrifying monsters, and solid character development all wrapped in a killer premise. You don't want to miss this.

Grades:

Story: fourandahalfstars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
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Buy from Amazon UK.
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Art: fourandahalfstars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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