Writer/Artist: Mathieu Bablet
The world has ended. Dust covers everything, and there are no survivors around. The last man on Earth wanders an empty city, reminiscing on the past, and wondering what happens next, if anything.
The Beautiful Death really manages to live up to its name. The artwork in this comic is breathtaking at times, creating a world that feels lonely and haunted. Days and nights go by, nothing changing, not even the dust. Little details manage to complete this empty shell of a city. Rusted signs and advertisements, laundry left out to dry, now coated in dust, footsteps that might be signs of other survivors, or just the last man of Earth’s own footsteps of days before.
The narration is lyric, almost poetic, and never overwhelms the aesthetics given to the reader by the visuals, complimenting them instead. The opening arc of The Beautiful Death is a masterclass in aesthetics and tone, but to talk further of the comic would get into at least one spoiler that might ruin part of the experience, so before I get into that, I’d like to say right now that I strongly recommend reading The Beautiful Death for yourself.
However, if you’re sticking around, here’s where I want to talk about the rest of the comic, and our real main characters, Jeremiah, Wayne, and Soham, a group of survivors starting to lose hope as they realize the resources around them are dwindling.
The world has been taken over by insectoid creatures, and Jeremiah and his friends run through the city, scavenging what they can while avoiding the insectoids. The incredible artworks shines through here again, creating an intense sense of motion as our main trio runs through the city, but balancing it with the emptiness of this world. Their chases are framed far away, with the dead skyline always in the background, the dust they kick up settling and not stirring otherwise. Everything about this comic, the framing, layouts, lighting, and design drive home the sense of a truly empty world, a world that has ended.
The dialogue between the three loses the earlier poetic narration and becomes very naturalistic, drawing the audience in on these characters who’ve been surviving on their own for who knows how long. They all play off of each other well, but just as with the more action-packed scenes, these conversations are always juxtaposed with the emptiness of the world, making them more than just what the dialogue and characterization conveys.
The Beautiful Death creates an engrossing post-apocalyptic world, haunting and beautiful and unlike anything else. For the art alone, this is worth reading, and everything put together becomes much more than the sum of its parts.