Since his breakout turn as the artist on the award winning Sex Criminals, Chip Zdarsky has swapped sides of the aisle to become a revered writer in his own right with great turns on Marvel 2-in-1, Daredevil and the Invaders. Now he is set to bring his new book Afterlift to the ComiXology Originals stable, and we take a took at all five issue to see if it’ll be a dead-fast route to even greater success.
Publisher: Jams + Jellies/Comixology Originals
Writer: Chip Zdarsky, Alison O’Toole (Editor)
Artist: Jason Loo (Artist), Paris Alleyne (Colorist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
Price: £2.99 per issue from ComiXology
Afterlift tells the story of Janice Chan, a night-shift driver for a high-end car hire company (which is a bit like Uber), whose life is turned upside down when she receives the request to pick up a very unusual fare. Now, Janice is informed by the cryptic Mr Dumu that their mid-trip pick up, Susannah is a soul in need of taking to the afterlife, with Janice and her wheels having been drafted to do just that. As a result, Janice must drive her car through the ghostly streets of her city and beyond as demons aplenty move in to capture Susannah’s valuable soul and deliver it to their final destination: Hell. But as Janice moves ever closer to this fares end and her opponents inch ever nearer, can she find a way of changing Susannah’s final stop for the better?
This series is fast-paced, exhilarating and highly entertaining as Zdarsky expertly weaves a great story which flows perfectly from start to finish. After a gentle trundle up the road in the first half of the first issue, Afterlift goes from 0-90 with terrific grace as the pacing revs up with addictive results, slowing down just enough to offer well placed exposition and emotional context. The characters are well written, particularly Janice, who goes from a place where she is lacking in direction (figuratively speaking) to someone who knows their place by the end. In fact, this opening emotional position is especially ironic as she appears as a lost soul who ends up transporting lost souls.
The rest of the cast are not as in depth but still solidly written and do what good support should as they help Janice fulfil her journey as they provide context to her specific issues. As such, there are hints of Ten Grand and What Dreams May Come in Janice’s journey as she faces her own demons in an effort to save another. As a result, the finale feels especially poignant as everyone’s journey is resolved, for some with unexpected consequences.
Meanwhile, Jason Loo more than matches the great story with some exceptionally gorgeous and equally frenetic artwork. Loo’s style works especially well during the escape through the ‘city streets’ early on, when he produces the living world in a more ghostly aesthetic, essentially subverting the roles of the ‘living’ and the ‘dead’. Of course, this is given greater focus thanks to Paris Alleyne’s colours as she utilises a dull grey scheme for these ghostly bystanders to help differentiate against the bright and loud landscape of Hell and its denizens.
Of course, differences between worlds is not where Loo and Alleyne’s skills end, as they use their fantastic choices in looks and colours respectively to fundamentally change the great beyond to match its change from Hell to Purgatory to the Pearly Gates of St Peter. Finally, there is also the detail in which the artistic team have produced this series, as they offer the feeling of having spared no expense. From the locket hanging from the rear view, to the Devilish hints of Dumu’s human face, Loo and Alleyne offer a meal for the eyes with each panel.
Afterlift is a tremendous story. Well written, fantastically drawn, wonderfully coloured and thought-provoking. The team of Zdarsky, Loo, Alleyne and co. have produced a series that’s such an amazing read, it’s only downside is that it feels as though we won’t get more (although never say never). Either way, Comixology have another winner for their Originals label and its one all readers should catch a lift on.