Monday, May 21, 2018 • Evening Edition • "Because comics!"

Battles in the Afterlife: The Occultist #4 Review

Written by Luke Anthony on Sunday, January 05 2014 and posted in Reviews

Battles in the Afterlife: The Occultist #4 Review

A fight to the death with the dead and the non-corporeal.

Source: Dark Horse

I’ve enjoyed plenty of Dark Horse titles before, but nothing quite like The Occultist. One aspect of storytelling that I feel has yet to be explored in depth is with astral projection. This is as close to superpowers as humans seem to have so far in real life, or you might just call it separation from reailty. I’ve been dying (never apologize for puns!) for a fiction series to start exploring in depth the possibly reality/pseudoscience of post-mortem reality, astral projection and the Occult (and no, I’m not referring to any holy books). The 5 part mini-series is coming to a close in the next issue, so my genuine suggestion is to either pick up the 4 available issues now in time for the conclusion, or wait till the TPB comes out, if there will be one.
I’m really digging the art like no other Dark Horse comic to date, no joke. The colors are rich and bright, but not overly so. I want some of these on the walls of my home. Props to Mike Norton (Runaways, Gravity) and Allen Passalaqua (Battlepug, Archer Armstrong) though both are established talents, I still need to point out how great they are. 
If you’ve read it, remember issue 2, page 14 where they start traveling to other planets like Neptune? Interstellar astral travel? Pff - ya! Then they cut each other’s silver cord attaching them to their body, and found themselves at the gate of Purgatory and the Realm of the Dead, which was just incredible. The imagery was very cool to see brought to life. I’d love to share another page from issue #4 where Anna, the supernatural detective separates from her body and flies through a rainbow swirling portal towards the realm of the dead. It’s trippy and gorgeous, but sadly - watermarked & I don’t have the non-review copy. 
Natural dialogue is somewhat reminiscent of Invincible in that it’s a young college student who doesn’t really pull off crypto-hypto-nyptic speak. Yes I just coined that word, feel free to use it. Avoiding cheesy one-liners and cryptic word punching, the straight-forward dialogue makes it feel more real and relevant, which I enjoy personally. Plus they fight babies in issue #1 and weaponize them in issue #4. Don’t worry, they’re evil babies (whew!). Then again, what babies aren’t evil at 3 in the morning?
Issue #4 is the beginning of the end. Pure chaos ensues at the Gate of the Realm of the Dead and Purgatory. This is where the supernatural meets superpowers. Outisde their bodies, the friends that protagonist Rob has recently made, fight against the Reaper - the fused hatred and envy of one hundred thousand souls with their astral powers. Let’s clear up what astral means in this context. Basically beyond your body, you are only limited by your imagination. So this is very Green Lantern-esque; only in that they can shoot beams of green light. While that's going on, Rob is learning of the betrayal of some of those around him, and worst of all, his mentor who was really just trying to steal his body for the Sword that gives him power. The last issue will rap up the treachery surrounding that debauchle, and maybe even clear up some unrequitted love. We'll see.
The only qualm I have with this series is that it hasn’t gone deep enough. If you are on the edges of reality, and have seen the land beyond, you don’t speak or act  the same way anymore. You see life on another level. My introspective self was hoping for some real insight similar to Deadman’s New 52 reboot with The Son of Morning. Still, I’m very happy that so far The Occultist has tapped into as much uncharted territory as it has so far. Tim Seely has assuredly outdone himself since G.I. Joe.
As a reviewer of comics, I’m privy to early digital releases. So it’s cut down on what I purchase, but when I really love an issue or a series, I still go out and buy it so I can support the creators and publishers. This is definitely one of the series I want to hold in my hands and have on my shelf. I'm also sensitive to recycled plot lines, so I can say if you're looking for something a little different, you may also want to pick it up in print like I do.


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About the Author - LukeAnthony

When Luke isn't writing reviews, he's writing manuals (occupation), original comics (vocation), children's books, or music (recreation). As a lover of all things high-concept, sci-fi, and/or philosophical, comics found their way into his life only a few years ago, at the ripe age of 26. It was V for Vendetta & Watchmen that led to his pathological media consumption rebirth of 2012. Ever since then, he found himself happier, more child-like, a tad bit smarter, and a much better liar. True to Outhouser gospel, he believes humor, like water, must be present in all things. If it's not, it's too dry & sucks the life out. Sarcasm, the salty demeanor of the South, frightened this idealist in youth, but is now the occasional spice used in his well seasoned personality. He sold all he had to leave his old world behind (cars, house, belongings) & become a full-time traveler across the US of A, a decision that altered his inner world as much as his outer one. If it has humor, depth, spiritual significance, and/or technicality and in that order, then consider it on this briny dude's shelf and up for review. Favorite on-going series include Black Science and Saga. This light, but deep fellow can be found on Facebook and/or Twitter.

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