Comics aren’t newspapers. You’re not limited to learning the latest little wrinkles in ongoing stories which all obey the same rules. A comic book is a hand-held window into a whole new world, and Afterlife Incorporated jumps face-first through exploding glass to take over heaven itself.
And that happened before the first issue.
Afterlife Inc is everything independent comics should be: a new world where you know nothing but want to change that. The afterlife is under new management, and in the opening volume you’re dropped right into it just like (and along with) a batch of fresh arrivals. The first of which makes a spectacular entrance.
This scattershot of souls gives glimpses of the fascinating new world, then the second volume sees the Empyrean under military attack, and in the third the race to unleash a new power triggers far more than anyone expected, and then you realize that you’re three books in and nobody has sat you down to patiently explain what’s going on. And you didn’t need them to. No extended X-Jet sequences where everyone sits around telling you the plot, no update panels listing which other issues you need to buy to engage with the one you’ve already spent money on, none of the formulaic filling we’re used to seeing stuffing the spaces between good bits.
Afterlife Inc is all good bit. Every panel is plot, character revealing, or explosion, often simultaneously, all touring a world you want to learn more about. No continuity prison, no knowing what’s going to happen because you recognise the bad guys forehead-diamond-pattern, or because they’re a licensed character with their own series. It’s a showcase of what an independent comic book can do. And it’s fantastic fun.