The Shepherd: Book 1
There are few things in life that are as emotionally destructive or psychologically damaging as the lost of a family member. It's even worse when it's unexpected, and the consequences can be devastating. What we choose to do in the aftermath can have far reaching effects that change the world around us forever. Such are the events in The Shepherd - the first book from Andrea and Roberto Molinari. Lawrence Miller is a professor steeped in early religious texts, has a loving family, and is slowly being consumed by his work when his life is upended in terrible ways. His oldest son, Val, dies of a drug overdose, sending Lawrence into a tailspin. Unable to shake the feeling that Val is lost, Lawrence makes an irreversible choice that separates him from the rest of his family and deposits him in the Seam, a sort of purgatory where souls go before their final transition. There, Lawrence meets his long dead father, who implores Lawrence to let go of his anger and continue on. Lawrence chooses to stay in the Seam, to find Val, and exact violent retribution on those who contributed to Val's death. What he quickly discovers is that Val is not the only soul lost in the Seam, and his existence becomes one of unbridled rage, edged with the knowledge that every time he lashes out, he further endangers his own eternal existence. The Shepherd: Apokatastasis (Apokatastasis is the teaching that everyone will, in the end, be saved.) is a character study in the desire for vengeance, and the ultimate need to forgive. Lawrence's character is so consumed by his anger over Val's death that he decides to extract vengeance against the people who made Val's death possible. However, in doing so, he continually endangers his own "existence" as each time, he loses more and more of who he is. A lot of stories based off of religious theories and/or teaching tend to be heavy handed, pedantic, or dogmatic to the point of offensiveness. The Shepherd: Apokatastasis manages to dodge these pitfalls with a grace and aplomb that even many secular themed titles fall into. The combination of religious history, a story of revenge, and the supernatural weave together in a tale of learning that often times, the hardest decisions to make are the ones we want to do the least. Of course, any graphic novel worth its salt will have artwork that compliments and enhances the story, and this one is no different. Showers's line art is kinetic and exciting, while Breckel's colors evoke the different moods of Lawrence - especially when he's exacting his revenge on those he's found to be lacking. While perhaps not to everyone's tastes, The Shepard: Apokatastasis is a good series for those who are looking for something a bit familiar, but just different enough to make it nice and fresh.