Comic Reviews: A.D. After Death and Venom!
A.D After Death #1 (of 3) (Image Comics)
There’s always a lot of hype surrounding a new series from Scott Snyder or Jeff Lemire individually, so you can imagine the kind of hype surrounding A.D. After Death. The first collaboration between two of comics’ biggest creators, A.D. tells the story of a world where death has been “cured”. A.D. After Death is an exploration of the relationship between humans and death, and it’s presented in a way that is very different from what I was expecting. No one has died in decades, and humanity lives in “cycles”. Relationships and jobs can last far longer than anyone ever imagined, but there’s a dark mystery surrounding the world.
The mystery behind the cure for death isn’t explored at all in this opening issue, but Scott Snyder’s script is still extremely compelling. Focusing on a man named Jonah, Snyder uses a variety of techniques to tell his story, including prose pieces, which A.D. After Death contains a surprising amount of. While I typically balk at seeing a block of text in my comic books, I have to say, these sequences actually help enhance the story. They alllow the reader to understand Jonah far better than using panels, and there are some truly beautiful passages throughout (including one about summer homes that struck a chord with me, a guy who likes to drive around and look at beach houses). In a lot of ways, this issue reminded me of Snyder’s collection of short stories, Voodoo Heart, which is a must-read if you like his comics work.
Since Snyder is writing the series, it falls on Jeff Lemire to handle the art. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Lemire’s artwork, but when it works, like in Sweet Tooth, it works really well. Thankfully I can tell you here that Lemire’s art in A.D. works incredibly. His simple character designs and stark, almost empty backgrounds add a sense of melancholy to the book that compliments the themes of Snyder’s script perfectly.
A.D. After Death is not your ordinary comic, and that’s not taking into account the fact that it’s oversized. It’s a weird mix of prose and panels that works way better than it should, which isn’t that surprising when you look at the pedigree of the creators involved. What Snyder and Lemire have with A.D. After Death is something truly unique, and if they can keep up this level of quality, we could have a new modern classic on our hands.
Venom #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like any good child of the 90’s, I love Venom, and I’ve checked up on him numerous times throughout his history. From teeth and tongued monstrosity to a government operative to a guardian of the galaxy, Venom has gone through a ton of changes since his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #300, and now writer Mike Costa and artist Gerardo Sandoval are bringing him back to the basics. There’s a new guy in charge of the symbiote, and he’s going to remind you why Venom was one of the best villains in Marvel.
After jumping from homeless person to homeless person, the symbiote is in dire shape, and desperately needs a strong host to survive. What it finds though is someone who may not be all that trustworthy, or willing to try and do the right thing, a new trait that’s been imprinted on the symbiote after bonding with Flash Thompson. The costume needs a host to survive, but will it go back to its old ways in order to live?
Mike Costa’s script does a wonderful job of completely subverting your expectations with Venom. You go through roughly half of the issue thinking you’re following one person, when you suddenly realize that the character you were following wasn’t who you were following at all. Hell, I didn’t even catch it when I first I read the issue. I won’t reveal who the new host of the symbiote is, but I will say that Costa does a pretty great job of explaining what makes this person tick, and he even gets into the mindset of the alien costume, something that’s only been done a handful of times in the various Venom series.
Aside from a great hook, Gerardo Sandoval’s art is one of the main reasons to pick up Venom. A mix of Todd McFarlane and Humberto Ramos, Sandoval’s art is fluid and extremely dynamic. Under his pen, the symbiote looks like a horrifying crazed tentacle monster, and his new design for Venom with his new host is really spectacular. I’ve only seen a handful of Sandoval’s work before, but this should be the book to make him a superstar at Marvel.
While it remains to be seen just how someone can have this much control over the symbiote, I must admit that I’m very impressed by this new take on Venom. The hook is solid, and Mike Costa sounds like the perfect writer for this new take on the character. After a bit of a false start with his “Agent of the Cosmos” series, Venom’s back on Earth, and ready to rock and roll. Here’s hoping this leads to great things for the character.