Last Days Of An Immortal
Written by Fabien Vehlmann
Illustrated by Gwen De Bonneval
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Cover Price: $24.95
Have you ever chosen a book because of the title? I have told folks for years that they should never do that or, even worse, judge a book by it’s cover. Yet, this time through, I did just that. Though, you have to admit, Last Days of an Immortal is a pretty catchy name. Being a total shot in the dark, I had zero expectations for this comic. Talk about being surprised.
To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of Fabien Vehlmann or Gwen De Bonneval, but I am very familiar with Archaia Entertainment. And after reading the synopsis on the back, I realized I had received a science fiction graphic novel. Now, I’m not a huge sci-fi guy but I do have some love for the genre, so I plunged in head first.
Page one starts off with a murder and luckily we get to hear about it from the victim. Well, a copy of the victim anyway. This book refers to those copies as “echoes.” Point being, if your primary body dies or is killed, your memories can be transferred into one of your echoes, thereby sustaining your life indefinitely…in essence, making you immortal.
Our protagonist, Elijah, is a member of the Philosophical Police, a group tasked with preserving the peace between the multitude of alien races. Often times it is merely knowledge and comprehension that causes problems, and Elijah’s job is to figure out what went wrong and led to conflict. This is the underlying theme to the story and one that creates a massive amount of possible tangents. But my favorite part wasn’t the tale as it’s presented. No, I loved the emotional tension and introspection that the reader is exposed to throughout the 150 page book.
We are given a short look into the pain and distance that exists between immortals. Their coping mechanisms are atrophied to the point that they seem almost unconcerned with intimacy but over-value ceremonies to find closure for many events in their lives. It’s a bit difficult to explain but there are many nuances in the story that will keep bouncing around in your head days after reading this comic. The ramifications of immortality are well represented, though they are more subtle than obvious.
Elijah spends a large amount of the comic confused about a relationship he had with a friend who elected to terminate his existence. This burden travels with him while he mediates case after case until it seems to distract him to the point of no return. But it his choice at the end that defines him. He makes a decision so totally alien to his fellow humans, but one that I think truly embodies humanity and all that comes with it.
The art is minimalistic, serving as guidelines only. It’s the story that really makes this work. I couldn’t see this as a full novel but it seems very fitting as a graphic novel. The length of the tale is perfect for sequential art. The visual representation allows Vehlmann to concentrate solely on the dialogue, slowly building the scene and creating some minor suspense as the reader tries to interpret the clues and deduce the ending.
I thoroughly enjoyed the read. However, it is an adults only piece not just because of the graphic sexual nature in a couple of scenes but also because children wouldn’t grasp the subtleties in the story. This tale is less science fiction and more cerebral in nature, so be prepared to exercise your intellect with this one. I would recommend this to my friends who read heavily, as this comic is not for just anyone. Not to say the average comic reader wouldn’t enjoy it, rather they might be disappointed in the lack of excitement and action. Want to do a little soul searching while you read a graphic novel? Then try this one, it will definitely make you examine your own life and contemplate the choices you would make if you were in Elijah’s position. It’s a worthy addition to your bookshelf, I know I like it on mine.