After a three year hiatus, Jon Lock returns to the comic series which started him down the road of becoming a comic creator with the fourth volume of his heaven sent series, Afterlife Inc. But can this fourth instalment, Man Made God, continue to offer a story of fun, action and hijinks in an afterlife which is run like a company or has the series fallen into purgatory?
Publisher: Big Punch Studios
Writer: Jon Lock
Artist: Davide Tinto (Inks/Pencils), Ash Jackson (Pencils), Mike Bunt (Inks), Verity Glass (Colours), Lucy Brown (Letters), Will Tempest and James Stayte (Back up stories)
Price: £15 at www.bigpunchstudios.com/store
Afterlife Inc: Man Made God takes readers back to the Empyrean for a fourth adventure with Jack Fortune and his band of angels and human souls as they continue to make the afterlife everyone’s individual heaven as well as a company they can believe in. However, Jack’s control of heaven starts to show its cracks when a series of conflicts, both within his inner circle and through the Empyrean as a whole, lead to doubts surrounding his leadership and culminating in the return of the last being anyone expected, one not seen since before the Calamity. The return of the Archangel Gabriel!
With the fourth volume of this series, creator Jon Lock has returned with an instalment which is still bristling with the same enthusiasm as it was at the beginning. However, unlike that first volume, Lock’s experience, (including possible plagiarism against his work by a famous TV show), and maturity as a writer really shines through with a story which feels more epic in it’s scope while simultaneously being darker and subtly influenced by real world events. This book is not perfect, as the opening chapter feels slow to get off the mark and seemingly unconnected to the greater story, while the book as a whole comes off as a direct sequel to volume 3, feeling like it needs information from that instalment to allow full understanding. That said though, once the ball does get rolling, Lock treats his readers with a seriously compelling story full of his usual wit and charm but also containing some increased hints of his characters growth in a way not previously seen.
Meanwhile, the art in this volume is broken up between regular Lock collaborator Ash Jackson, whose work continues to be solid, and new incoming penciller Davide Tinto, who really knocks it out of the park with some fantastic work. Both artists really offer great work between the covers with the help of colourist Verity Glass, whose use of the deeper, darker tones allow the style to remain in keeping with the books darker tone. However, out of the two, Tinto is very much the standout as his style and use of shadows really plays to the plot’s strength, offering some really amazing panels such as Jack hiding in the darkness awaiting his enemy’s arrival in chapter 5 or him meeting a worker in the first chapter. Finally, special mention has to go to Lock for the concept of Gabriel, whose look in this comic thanks to Jackson and Tinto is nothing short of breathtaking.
Afterlife Inc. continues to go from strength to strength with it’s fourth volume, as Man Made God offers a truly engaging story with some really gorgeous art, maintaining it’s witty, fun and action packed world, while also moving it to something more epic in nature. Now more than halfway towards Lock’s original seven book plan for the series, the question is, is the end nigh or can this book be everlasting like heaven itself? Either way, for now check out Afterlife Inc. a comic book you can believe in.