Janice Chen has a hard enough time dealing with her overbearing mom and trying to make ends meet as a Cabit driver; the last thing she needs is to find herself transporting a recently deceased soul to the afterlife. But that’s exactly what happens when she picks up her

latest fare, the mysterious Mr. Dumu and his quiet and morose female companion. Janice soon learns that Dumu is escorting the woman’s soul on a dangerous journey: fresh souls are apparently hot commodities for demons and Janice has a number of them tailgating – and they don’t really care who gets hurt as long as they collect their bounty. A supernatural, high-octane thrill ride, Afterlift moves at the ex- pected fast pace, with plenty of twists and turns as it chugs along. As expected from a Chip Zdarsky script, there’s plenty of humour as well, though it thankfully doesn’t overshadow the action or more serious (and horrific) aspects of the story.

Mononymous German writer/artist Andreas’ opus Cromwell Stone gets its first printing in En-

glish and that’s cause for celebration! Consisting of three tales that were originally published over a span of eighteen years, the Lovecraftian saga is a bewildering and spell- binding experience. The eponymous Stone is one of thirteen survivors from a doomed sea voyage. When he learns that his former fellow passengers are in- explicably dying, he soon discovers a strange artefact

at the heart of the mystery – possibly the key to a realm populated by god-like beings with designs on Earth. Told from the perspective of several characters over several decades, Stone casts a perplexing narrative at times, oscillating between quiet character moments and deep cosmic musings (though for anyone familiar with Lovecraft and the many homages, this is par for the course). Andreas’ art, however, is unques- tionably gorgeous. Making full use of black and white and hatching, whether detailing a charac- ter’s pensive face or a monstrous be- hemoth wrecking a sailing vessel, the results are stunning.

Mary Shelley’s life story has fasci- nated fans nearly as much as her in-

famous work of fiction, Frankenstein. How did a nineteen-year-old girl come up with one of the most enduring and influential novels in history? Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs use that question as a starting point for

Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter, an attempt to marry biographical fact with a healthy dose of fictional speculation. Mary, along with her fiancé Percy Shelley and a small group of friends, spend the winter of 1816 in Geneva at the castle abode of Victoria Franken- stein. There, she is privy to the doctor’s experiments stitch- ing together and reanimating corpses, and is soon not only assisting in the operations but agreeing to educate the new- born creature. But this wouldn’t

be a horror story unless things go terribly awry and the monster quickly grows out of control with bloody results. Fans of the novel will rec- ognize many of the story’s beats, although the book does cast a refreshing new glance on the old tale, playing up a feminist angle mostly bur- ied in the original text. Dr. Frankenstein’s gender change and Mary’s role as protagonist bring a new take on the classic themes of mortality, hu- bris, and science gone astray, and are more than just cosmetic tweaks to capitalize on the recent girl power trend.

Based on Algernon Black- wood’s 1907 novella, The Wil-

lows is the story of two unwit- ting campers on a canoe trip down the Danube River who face hostile elements that may be the product of malign and unearthly forces. Sam Ford’s art is beautifully grotesque, imbu- ing the natural landscape with

subtle and overt menace, layering the foliage with distorted alien faces and bodies. Likewise, Nathan Carson has done a good job adapting Blackwood’s ethereal work, remaining faithful while adding a new spin by making the travellers women and fleshing out their personalities and motivations. To that end, this reissue contains a brand new story showing how the adventurers met – hopefully, a hint that future perilous journeys lie in store.

Elderly couple Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to co-fund and partake

in a revolutionary experiment that will restore their youth and further expand their lives, but things take a sinister turn when the tests instead result in horribly disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior doppelgängers. With their own bodies growing ever more frail, the couple are in danger of being overcome by their du- plicates, who seem to have an agenda of their own. Horrific and poi- gnant, Upgrade Soul is a dense yet easily acces- sible treatise on the fear of aging and humanity’s eternal struggle to ac- cept its own death. The characters are complex and each manage to be

relatable and sympathetic, from both sets of the Nonnars to the scientists whose miscalculations lead to tragic results for everyone. Ezra Claytan Daniels has created a modern masterpiece.

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