Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review - The Shepherd: Apokatastasis

The Shepherd: Apokatastasis
Written by: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari & Roberto Xavier Molinari
Art by: Ryan Showers
Colours by: Heather Breckel
Letters & Logo Design by: Jacob Bascle
Published by: Caliber Comics

Written by the father-son team of Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari, The Shepherd is a supernatural comic series that tells the story of a grief-stricken father as he makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to rescue the lost soul of his recently departed son. The series itself was borne out of a nightmare that Andrea had, which haunted the writer until he was able to put it to the page with the help of his son, Roberto, and artist, Ryan Showers. With an unusual muse behind the series’ origins, it’s clear to see why this story feels so raw and real, with Andrea’s experience helping bring those feelings of grief and loss to life in such an effective manner. The initial installment, which covers the death of the protagonist’s young son, is depicted with chilling normalcy and everyday realism that the character’s drastic decision to end his own life feels like the natural end to his journey. Except, it isn't…

The remainder of this introductory storyline manages to channel the same energy and flavour seen in other supernatural redemptive stories such as, Spawn and Ghost Rider. Lawrence Miller is an interesting and complex protagonist, both before and after he becomes ‘The Shepherd’, dealing with his anger and grief in ways that most people are unable to do, by getting revenge on those individuals who caused his the death of his son. Armed with a staff of truth which has powers that resemble Ghost Rider's own penance stare, Miller seeks out the drug dealers responsible for his son's death and unleashing pure and unbridled truth onto them, causing them to react in different ways. Both Andrea and Roberto do a fantastic job at capturing the lead character’s personality, placing his grief over his son at the heart of the book with a strong narrative voice evident throughout the series. I was blown away by the strength of the writing on display here, not only do the Molinari’s manage to get under the skin of grief, but they do a excellent job at exploring the grieving process through the voice of a fictional character.

Man's Best Friend?

The series’ artist Ryan Showers brings a wonderful tone to the book, whilst its colorist, Heather Breckel effortlessly conjures up the right mood with her choices, using a more muted “everyday” colour palette used to depict the living world of the first issue, before indulging in darker hues and a sickly green shade as Miller finds himself stuck between the two worlds of life and death. Supplementary materials at the back of the collected edition reveal that the Showers was brought in when the original artist Josh Barker was unable to complete the series due to family illness – some of Barker's pages are showcased in this section and I have to agree with Andreas' decision to go with Showers' more emotional take on the story as opposed to the darker, grittier feel that came from Barker's artwork. Showers' artwork certainly ensured that the emotional core of the story resonated deeply with me and was the ideal companion to the Molinaris' script, managing to balance family melodrama and supernatural horror in equal measures.

The Shepherd: Apokatastasis is an absolutely fantastic example of independent comics, and several times I found myself thinking that this could easily have been published by Image or Top Cow – it has that gritty supernatural feel to the storyline that makes it an ideal fit for those publishers. The story had me gripped from the start and I eagerly devoured all five chapters in the space of an evening – enjoying Lawrence Miller's journey through the afterlife as he searches for the soul of his son, and retribution for his death. The writing was absolutely sublime, adding a real human element to a story of revenge from beyond the grave, whilst the artwork excelled at communicating the emotional core of the storyline. Fans of Spawn, Ghost Rider and The Crow should definitely check this series out – and the characters themselves should step aside because there's a brand-new spirit of vengeance in town!

Score - 9.4 out of 10

The Shepherd: Apokatastasis is available to buy from and digitally from and Comixology.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...