After Professor Lawrence Miller’s teenage son Val’s tragic death from a drug overdose, he cannot shake the sense that his son’s soul is lost and wandering between heaven and earth. Grieving and deeply disturbed, he makes a fateful decision to commit suicide, electing to pursue his son into the afterlife. Lawrence’s soul awakens and immediately encounters his deceased father who has arrived to greet him in order to help him transition over. However, Lawrence rejects his father’s offer, choosing instead to stay in the ‘seam,’ the middle ground between heaven and earth, so that he can find his son and seek retribution. Lawrence embarks on his search for Val, beginning at his son’s grave. But as Lawrence begins to wage a brutal campaign of retribution against those responsible for the drugs that killed Val, his existence becomes a terrifying conflict between his unchecked anger...and his instinctive knowledge that he has lost his own way.
The Shepherd is a mesmerizing, gritty tale of some seriously heavy topics, including: drugs, dealing with the death of loved ones, suicide, revenge, and redemption. The storyline relies deeply on religious and philosophical undertones throughout, and can feel preachy at times (particularly of the Christian discipline), but is overall an entertaining read throughout.
Paneling and encapsulation feels comfortable and dialogue bubbles flow smoothly for an easy read and comprehensive understanding of the story.
Penciller and inker, Ryan Showers, is a standout gem in the list of collaborators on the project. His work is clean and concise, utilizing only what is exactly needed for each frame to minimize clutter and allow the reader to focus on what is important.
Heather Breckel, the colorist for the project, provides the perfect mood throughout the graphic novel. A limited palette that drifts smoothly from panel to panel, reminiscent of a changing sky during sunset, does the penciling and inking justice. Darks and lights were used effectively to set scenes and provide necessary intensity for the story.
Graphic novels and comics can often have a hard time providing the reader with alternative sensory perceptions other than visual. The Shepherd, however, effectively uses onomatopoeias and other visual cues to invoke smelling, tasting, and hearing in the reader. The use of sweat and smoke are just a couple of examples that draw the reader into putting themselves in the characters shoes to achieve a more intimate experience.
The introduction and ending content is engaging and informational, providing the reader with a foundation and a sense of closure. The progression in art is remarkable and the teasers for future series involving The Shepherd leaves me wanting more. Mainly, The Shepherd is a beautiful work of art that has an enjoyable story tagging along.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM:
Roberto Xavier Molinari (writer/ creator) – Roberto, Andrea’s son, is an avid gamer and reader of adventure novels. Though young, he has saved many worlds in his time; among these are Nirn, Faerûn, and Sera. In his spare time, Roberto is pursuing an undergraduate degree in English at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. https://www.facebook.com/roberto.molinari.90?fref=ts
Ryan Showers (pencils/ inks) – Showers is a young artist. Despite his youth, he has been responsible for the pencils and inks in Shamantra #1 (self-published); Forgotten Tales #1 and Kreepy Kofy Movie Time #1 both published by Scattered Comics of Sacramento, CA. In addition, he has provided all pencils and inks for The Shepherd: Apokatastasis (both for the five issues as well as the covers). Finally, Ryan has done artwork for several bands in his local area (Omaha, NE) and also stays busy with commission work on the side.
Heather Breckel (colorist) – Among Breckel’s extensive coloring credits are dozens of issues of IDW’s My Little Pony; almost thirty issues of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; six issues of Image’s Peter Panzerfaust; and three issues of Dark Horse’s Never Ending. Recently, she has been commissioned by both Marvel and DC. See: http://www.comicvine.com/heather-breckel/4040-66554/issues-cover/; https://twitter.com/angienessyo
Jacob Bascle (letters and logo design) – Raised in the swamps of Louisiana and trained in the finer points of graphic design in Minnesota’s frozen tundra, Jacob now calls the beaches of Southern California home. He likes putting letters on top of other people’s artwork and on front of their comics. When not handling lettering, logo and layout design and production for Visionary Comics, Space Goat Comics, and Big & Tall Tales, he’s either doing graphic design through his freelance company Freemind Graphx, or gaming and hanging out with his girlfriend Katie, son Xander and their cats Mischief and Mayhem. https://www.facebook.com/jacobbascle
NOTE: The COLORS for the COVERS for Issues 4 and 5 were done by Mike Stefan. Stefan is a comic book and digital colorist who goes by the name Scar. He works for Scattered Comics Studios.
Creative direction and art production services for The Shepherd: Apokatastasis were provided by Jason Dube and Scattered Comics Studios of Sacramento, CA (http://www.scatteredcomicsstudios.com/).