The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (And the Dead Left in His Wake) ReviewOctober 1, 2014
His name is Ichabod Azrael and he is a killer. But his death, for die he must, is only the beginning of his story…
The latest chapter in The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (And the Dead Left in His Wake) flows from the pens of Rob Williams (The Royals) and Mike Dowling (Death Sentence) in the next Prog from 2000 AD. Prog 1901 brings us the next chapter that continues the tale of evil, brutality, despair, and vengeance that will shake the very gates of death itself. Ichabod is the deadliest, meanest cowboy in the Old West, but now can he kill his way through the Afterlife to return to the land of the living?
Rob Williams has said of this story:
[blockquote]“The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael is a bloody, romantic, supernatural western filtered through the language of Daniel Woodrell and the cinematic imagery of Terrence Malick. Gunfights, manhunts, demons, both real and internal, and a redemption quest like no other – if you loved someone enough, would you kill everything in heaven and hell in order to return to that person? Can one dead man be too mean for the afterlife?”[/blockquote]
The story of Ichabod Azrael is completely new to me and I thought the above quote was the perfect way to describe exactly what you are getting yourself into when you read Ichabod Azrael’s story. He is this incredibly violent cowboy that ends up murdered and winds up in the afterlife. This is probably where most people would just give up and be defeated much like the masses he encounters there, but this guy decides that even death can’t stop him and he takes on all comers.
The way Rob Williams describes Ichabod’s world as having the cinematic imagery of Terence Malick is a very accurate description of the artwork that you will find in ongoing adventures of Ichabod Azrael. What struck me as a direct comparison is that if you were to look at the full colour panels of the living world, it reminds me a lot of The Thin Red Line. In the afterlife it completely flips (both from color to black and white) and you get this insane, nightmarish world that seems so desolate and the last place you would want to find yourself. I am always leery about black and white comic books just because with the panel size, detail can be lost. This series, however, has great use of space and I think that the use of black and white for the afterlife elevates this series. If the demons that appear in the series were to be in full colour, they would be far less frightening than the nightmarish ghouls that appear.
The writing on both the series as a whole and the Prog installment is very well done. It takes all the usual trappings of a western, like lost love, redemption and one man against terrible odds, and then tosses that in a blender with supernatural elements like the River Stix, and the boatman that carries souls across the river, demons, angels, Purgatory and more. When these elements come together, it really lends well to each other. Rob Williams script is exceptional and he really knows how to expertly weave the two genres together. It is dark, gritty and creepy. Williams creates a vision of Purgatory and the afterlife that leaves the reader with the right impression that this is the worst, most desolate, horrific place you would want to end up. While not the hellish nightmare that is depicted in something like Botticelli’s Map of Hell, it’s still quite the frightening horrible place.
If you’re looking for something very different to spice things up from the usual and has quite the supernatural twist, pick up the newest Prog from 2000 AD. The other stories inside won’t leave you disappointed as 2000 AD consistently has excellent writing and artwork within their stories. The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael is no different and will leave you wanting more of his twisted story.