What would happen in a world without death? What if all the many injuries time and biology will inevitably visit on us were just… gone? That’s the question Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire tackle in A.D. After Death, possibly the most ambitious project for both of them.
Snyder handles the text while Lemire handles the art, and it’s fascinating to watch them work. After Death is a mix of illustrated prose and comics showing the long, long life of Jonah Cooke. Jonah’s a mess of a human being, with tragedy lurking in his past, and he’s tired of living forever. So he may finally have a plan to get around it, something the book explores both in the future, where Jonah is seemingly working on the fringes of a society, and in the past, where we learn just why he’s so screwed up. Even with two issues to go, a complex, sad portrait emerges of a man who was waiting to die, and may still be.
Lemire, meanwhile, focuses on the art, in his first fully-painted book. The art alone makes picking up this book worth is, as its some of Lemire’s most vivid, distinct work. It can be tricky to paint comics, as it can feel gimmicky, but Lemire’s discipline behind the brush makes the really showy moments pop out all the brighter and the result is a beautiful book.
After Death is a comic many readers will probably spend a lot of time this week chewing over. Snyder and Lemire ask some big questions by lingering on how big changes can have deeply personal effects, and the plight of Jonah Cooke may, for all we know, be more relevant sooner than we think.