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The Shepherd – Apokatastasis

Writers – Andrea Lorenzo Molinari & Roberto Xavier Molinari

Pencils/Inks – Ryan “Score” Showers

Colors – Heather Breckel

Letters, Logo Design – Jacob Bascle

Review by Joey Braccino

The Shepherd

Moody.

Apokatastasis, from the Greek, means restitution or restoration and, in Orthodox teaching, refers to the belief that all of us will ultimately be saved by God’s good grace. Apokatastasis is also the title of the first arc of Andrea and Roberto Molinari’s passion project, The Shepherd, a supernatural, spiritual new comic book out from Caliber Comics. The solicits for the first volume do an expert job of capturing the complexity of the series:

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 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. (edited for serious spoilers!!!)

At its core, The Shepherd is a book about loss and the challenges a person will endure to try to restore the thing that is lost. Lawrence’s character in this book is expertly painted, and his arc from father to vengeful spirit is both moving and evocative. His quest to avenge his son is at once intensely brutal (my mind leaps back to one scene in particular from a later chapter when Lawrence interrogates a drug lord in front of the man’s family) and intensely tragic. The epiphanies that come later in the first volume of selfishness, selflessness, and pain lend the book an intense thematic heart that make this more than a simple supernatural thriller.

The Shepherd feels personal because, in many ways, it is. The frontmatter of the first volume features an essay from Andrea Molinari that details the origins of the series: originally the stuff of nightmares (literally), Andrea shared his dreams with his young son Roberto who suggested they turn it into a comic book series. Combined with Andrea’s expertise in religious studies, The Shepherd was born. To have a father and son working together on a story about family and the lengths to which a father will go to save his son provides a very moving meta-narrative to the series as well.

Shepherd

Interiors.

Ryan “Score” Shower’s gritty aesthetic produces the perfect mixture of ethereal atmosphere and noir sentiment. Reminiscent of Michael Lark’s moody naturalism and Joe Madureira’s dynamic cinematics, Shower’s work here perfectly captures the nuanced genre of the Molinari’s story as it bridges protagonist’s suspenseful, tragic pursuit with the more fantastical elements of the afterlife. One particular highlight of the book is Lawrence’s partner, a large wraith-like wolf that accompanies him on his journey. Shower’s illustration of the wraith literally pulls from the shadows and provides some of the more horror-inspired and enthralling visuals of the book. Heather Breckel works a lot with the shadows as well in her color palette, relying on heavy greens and sepias to light what otherwise could be completely dark situations. Interestingly, the trade includes some unused artwork from the original artist and, while impressive in its own right, it doesn’t necessarily feel as effective as what Showers and Breckel are able to put together. Overall, The Shepherd boasts excellent artwork that perfectly fits the genre of the story told.

Verdict

Buy. The Shepherd is a clear passion project of all involved. The care and attention paid to the thematic core of the book creates something that is both evocative and entertaining. The father and son due of the Molinaris have something really special here, and I hope they continue the story of Lawrence and his family.

Read more and find the book here: http://www.calibercomics.info/the-shepherd.html

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