INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd – Apokatastasis | FanboysInc

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd – Apokatastasis

By Jeff Ayers

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd - Apokatastasis

Writers: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari

Pencils/Inks: Ryan “Score” Showers

Colors: Heather Breckel

$19.99 – Trade Paperback

Caliber Comics

The Shepherd: Apokatastasis is a dark and gritty tale from Andrea and Rotberto Molinari, dealing with some pretty heavy themes. Andrea has a Ph.D. in both The Old and The New Testaments, the pillars of Christianity, so it is a perfect fit to create the main character of this book: Lawrence Miller, a professor of Theology. Throughout the 5 issue collection, the story twists and turns through the perils of the afterlife, especially one with a vendetta against the living.

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd - ApokatastasisThe story starts out with the professor’s oldest son, Val, dying from a drug overdose. This sets the stage for the downward spiral Lawrence endures, until he convinces himself that his son never crossed over, and he must help him. Yet to help Val, he must “shake off this mortal coil”, to quote the immortal bard. Upon entering the realm beyond this one, Lawrence is determined to find his son’s soul, and punish those that took Val away from him. He opts to stay in the “seam”, the area between heaven and hell, and wander the earth with the staff of truth and an unlikely sidekick, to wage his brutal campaign to discover retribution and come to terms with himself.

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INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd - Apokatastasis

The writing at times is very good, jumping between the tortured thoughts of Lawrence after his sons demise and some well plotted dialogue to humanize the characters. The plot is a little left field, and gets really dark despite itself at points. Lawrence’s choice to kill himself to save his son’s soul is heavier than expected when it is laid out on the page, and that can be a little unsettling at times. The inner dialogue Lawrence wrestles with is the writing at its best, while some of the scenes involving Lawrence enacting his retribution on some of the offenders are a little thin, pushing the brakes on the overall storytelling.

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd - Apokatastasis

The pencils are done in a very straight forward style that adds to the ethereal themes the story presents. For characters that exist in the real world and the spirit world, it helps to have hard-lined figures to stand out among the backgrounds. Also, the character designs set them apart from the designs of the demons, when they show up in the story, and that also helps heighten the overall look of the story as it continues on. Showers flexes his talent in each panel he draws, and does a great job keeping that high standard consistent throughout the book. Meanwhile, Breckel’s colors breathe life – and death – into the pages, really accenting the feel of the book on a whole. Once we start to get glimpses of the “seam” and the world as it is seen through the eyes of Lawrence once he is dead, the palate almost becomes its own character, letting the light shine through, but only when needed, as the shadows are the true rulers of each panel.

INDIE COMIC REVIEW: The Shepherd - Apokatastasis

The “Best There Is:” The art of this book is very fitting for the way the themes play out on the page. Often in independent comics, it is hard to find a solid team of writers and artists that gel together, yet The Shepherd has done just that. Caliber Comics does a fine job of living up to their name yet again, with this title out in digital format as well as a trade paperback collecting all five issues. You can snag your own copy today easily from Amazon.

The “Isn’t Very Nice”: As dark and otherworldly as this story was, at times the main plot was tough to swallow. The idea that Lawrence was a professor of theology, yet finds absolutely no solace after his son’s passing, is slightly disturbing. Even though it is integral to the character, it felt a little forced when he did’t have more of an existential crisis on the page. Also, the reveals of the powers he gets from his father, as well as his unlikely sidekick are very interesting, as is the twist at the end. Yet, the biggest shortcoming of this book I felt came with Lawrence himself. I never found myself rooting for the character to succeed in his quest, because from the onset, he was a deeply flawed and despicable individual. He didn’t care for his family at all, and went on a quest of revenge leaving them without their patriarch. It never seemed that it was absolutely necessary for one to cross over from the “seam” or not, because we never saw the other side. Yet, maybe that is all a story for another time. Finally, the plot device in the beginning of “six months earlier” really lessens the heavy tone of the rest of the book, as that trope is usually reserved for comedies and not intense dramas like this book.

FBI Score: 7.5 out of 10. The artistic talent of The Shepherd is paired beautifully with the themes presented within the story. The main character, though compelling and interesting, was written almost too irredeemable, so that I never fully wanted him to succeed in his quest for revenge.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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