REVIEW: After the Fall (2021)

A Graphic Novel by Laurent Queyssi & Juzhen

I’m a sucker for barbarian stories, and anything that can take a novel approach to the genre is always interesting to me. Rather than taking place in the far distant past, like most related to Conan the Cimmerian, After the Fall takes place a century after a great cataclysm that destroyed human society entirely. Small tribes of humans cling together in the wasteland, but some are not as “nice” as others. My favorite part of this was seeing the remnants of the past civilization as used by the barbarians of this new era in novel ways. Broken buildings and cars litter the landscape, but the ability to actually utilize such items has been long forgotten, now they are just barriers or even building blocks. It seems that most do not even know how to read at all, so mundane things like maps are like ancient scrolls to them. Something as simple as a backwards baseball cap or set of headphones have religious significance. It’s an interesting bit of world building, and I quite enjoyed it.

“Earth. 116 years after the fall. Giala and her tribe live amongst the ruins of a metropolis turned upside down. When a gang of slave traffickers attacks them, the men are executed and the women are enslaved. Narrowly escaping, Giala has only one thing in mind: to rescue the children of the tribe and set things right. A dystopic tale of revenge and discovery, as the central heroine encounters new allies and enemies in her search for security and justice. Along the way she meets a band of mutants with strange powers that will ultimately lead to the discovery of the ultimate secret: the source of the cataclysm that led to the Fall… A mystical post-apocalyptic tale, lushly illustrated by the modern and flamboyant design work of artist Juzhen. A self-concluding adventure.”

This is a fairly short story, and I would have liked this to be fleshed out a lot more. As is is, the story seems incomplete to a degree considering the original incident that causes Giala to be separated from her tribe is sadly not concluded, nor is some of the stuff regarding a tribe of mutants that she runs into. Perhaps there are plans for more that I’m unaware of, but as it stands the plot is a bit unfulfilled. The art, however, is gorgeous and makes up for any issues I have with the story. I am not certain where he hails from, but his art reminds me of some of the more modern popular Korean and Chinese artists that you see from time to time. I will definitely have to seek some of his stuff out after this, as I really like it.

My opinions aside regarding the plot, this is a solid book, and is well worth a look if you like this sort of story. The characters are interesting, and the artwork is gorgeous. Laurent Queyssi could easily do more with this setting if that was something he was interested in, I’d absolutely love to see it. If you are a fan post-apocalypse fiction, barbarian comics, monster books, or even “cheesecake books”, this is right up your alley.

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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