A.D.: After Death, out from Image Comics, is an intriguing chimera of a project. Part graphic novel, part prose tale released in an oversized prestige format, it tells the story of Jonah Cooke, a man who is one of a handful of people who has been given the medicinal cure for death, and now, 825 years later, lives in an isolated community high in the Andes while the rest of civilization struggles in the collapsing world below. But Jonah has a plan, a secret that may trigger the deaths of everyone.
Told in three interlocking storylines, we’re introduced to Young Jonah as he tells his autobiography in prose form, punctuated by illustrator Jeff Lemire’s spare illustrations. Later, we meet Jonah of the present as he flees, trying to escape a possible alien infestation, and then learn what led him to that moment, as well. Part mystery, part adventure, and part confessional, the tales moves back and forth in time, providing glimpses of three vastly different worlds, each one centered around Jonah and his experiences.
Lemire’s lush, but understated, watercolors succeed in capturing the tones of the tale aptly, never overwhelming the text or obscuring his deceptively simple illustrations. An especially nice touch is his sepia staining of the prose sections, adding an unexpected sense of nostalgia to the slowly unfolding story.
All in all, AD: After Death succeeds in sucking the reader in and parceling out information in such a judicious way that you can’t help but read on to see what happens next, and to find out what secret Jonah is bearing in the frantic and terrifying trek down the mountains. Snyder’s prose is as good as anything Stephen King has put out, capturing character and tone with seemingly effortless ease. You can’t go wrong to let this story get its grip on you.
“That’s my first memory.
I think about it often but have no idea what it means.
I wonder what it says about my life.
And wonder what my last memory will be…”
Verdict: FOUR Stolen Cultural Relics out of FIVE