With Further Ado #152: Out of Body from AfterShock Comics is a Different Kind of Murder Mystery.

D.O.A. is one of those film noir movies that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t ever let you forget it. Like many noirs, it uses flashback to kick things off. At the outset, we’re introduced to Edmund O’Brien who staggers into a police station to announce his own murder.  The basic premise is this: he’s been poisoned, and he has only hours to catch his murderer before he dies. Talk about motivation!

One of AfterShock Comics‘ latest series, Out of Body reminded me of the thrills of that classic. But it offers a whole lot more.   In this one, Dan Collins wakes to find he’s on life support in a hospital, and he has to solve the mystery of how he got there and who did it to him.

Peter Milligan, the creator and writer, is an established pro with a long list of favorites I’ve enjoyed over the years.  Not content to rest on his laurels, I’m amazed how fresh and clever this series is. He’s the type of writer that convinces you he has an infinite number of stories to tell, and that each one will be a step up from the last one that was your favorite.  It’s surprising but it shouldn’t be; he’s created another favorite.

I first became a fan of artist Inaki Miranda with Vertigo’s Coffin Hill a little less than a decade ago. He’s an engaging artist with a solid sense of storytelling. Miranda’s creating so much outstanding artwork lately, but it never seems rushed or hurried.

Out of Body is a thriller, that pushes the reader off balance immediately, and then introduces you to memorable, confusing and interesting characters. A few of them include:

Spiritualist Abigail McGrath, in the Ozarks, who makes contact with the spirit of Collins. She is surprised. Usually she’s involved in mundane, local spiritual activities, and so this is her chance to play in “the big leagues” and do something important.

There’s a woman with whom Collins is having an affair, and like Collins, we’re confused as to exactly what her role, and motivations is in all of this.

August Frye is a quirky character that you can’t help but be instantly curious about. And the part of his visual look – an old timey diving suit – is evocative of the still-missed Black Crown series Euthanauts, which also explored the mysteries of death and near death.

Like the characters in a Harlan Coben or Elmore Leonard novel, it’s not apparent quite yet how these people all fit together. But that’s all part of the fun, I suppose.

Psychedelic visuals play a big part of the depictions of the near death here.  Kudos must be given to colorist Eva De La Cruz. She finds a way to move the story along with clever chromatic choices and then really lets loose during the loopier sequences.

I like extra content. Out of Body #1 provides a bit of extra reading in the back-up pages  with a section called “The Book of Dying & Not Dying”.  The reading provides a solid primer to the series and in some ways, the guiderails along the windy road to help tell the read what she or he has just read.

I’m looking forward to issue #2 – it’s on sale in July.


Editor’s Note: This book is on our list of books we were looking forward to in June. You can check out the rest of that list here.