August 29, 2017

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Quick Hit: A.D.: After Death

 
A.D.: After Death
Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Published by Image Comics

A.D.: After Death ("A.D.") is a story that will make you want to grab a warm blanket, or hug your loved ones (or maybe a puppy). Writer Scott Snyder and illustrator Jeff Lemire have created a terrific, ambitious, haunting, story - something that will stay with you well after you read it.  A.D. was originally told over the course of three oversized issues (and is now collected in hardcover), and there's a lot to unpack not only with respect to the story itself, but also with respect to how the story is told. 

A.D. is focused around a man named Jonah Cooke, born in the 1970's, and alive over 800 years in the future. A.D. tells the story of Jonah's childhood and growth into adulthood, along with chronicling events that led to the end of civilization as we know it (and Jonahs role in those events) and the transformation of what was civilization into something new and different. 

Going into the book as a potential reader, it's helpful to know a little about the format of A.D. Broadly speaking, there are the prose parts of the book and the comic parts of the book. The comic parts of the book resemble traditional comics, with sequential art, panels (sometimes) and word balloons. By contrast, the prose sections of A.D. have a little more variation. In some cases the text may not have any accompanying illustration or may be accompanied by a color or a drawing of an object. By contrast, other pages of prose are (such as in the immediately above and below pages) are accompanied by detailed illustration of a moment from the story. 

A.D. really feels like two creators at the top of their game, working in real partnership to create something interesting. This is a story that's sad, moving, emotional and introspective. It's also a mystery which you get to see unfold over the course of the series; it's not a "whodunit" mystery, it's much more engaging than that. It's more of a "what exactly is going on here" kind of mystery, and you see different parts of the story come together.  It's a satisfying read that I think will reward repeat readings.

A note about pacing on this story. If you think of A.D. as primarily a prose tale with comic interludes, it actually helps as far as pacing is concerned. Because if you're expecting this to primarily read like a modern comic (i.e., fairly quickly), then this will feel like a very slow, dense read. The "comic" portions of the story read like typical excellent Lemire comics, which is to say that they're very low on dialogue and narration and Snyder doesn't get in the way of Lemire telling that portion of the "present day" story visually. However, if you're thinking of this more as a comic, then Snyder's prose sections will read a lot more slowly. It's beautiful, haunting prose, but it's a more involved read.

There's a lot to A.D. and I someday hope to revisit it and give it the detailed review it deserves. For now, I'd say if you're looking for something weird and beautiful and sad and different from typical comics, I'd recommend A.D.