The Shepherd: Apokatastasis written by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari is an emotionally compelling story that focuses on a relationship between a father and son through its tale of revenge, loss, and forgiveness.
After the tragic death of his son Val from a drug overdose, Professor Lawrence Miller spirals into a long, agonizing depression. The guilt and anger over his son’s death leads him to believe his son is stuck somewhere between the realm of the living and the dead. Determined to find and rescue his son, Miller travels to the realm between the living and the dead, losing his own life and the rest of his family in the process.
In order to fulfill his mission, Miller is given a pendant that transforms into a shepherd’s staff, allowing him to channel an unbelievable amount of power. However, it becomes clear that his mission to find his son is becoming skewed as he uses the staff to seek retribution towards the ones responsible for Val’s death. As he plunges further and further into revenge, his ultimate goal of finding his son becomes fainter and fainter.
Overall, the premise of The Shepherd is interesting. It focuses on a relationship that we don’t often get to see in the media, that between a father and his son. And, we certainly don’t get many stories that portray a man doing anything and everything to find him including sacrificing his connection with the rest of his family. It’s a very dark experience as you witness a man who feels as though he’s lost everything continue to spiral into an endless void of hopelessness.
The artwork by Ryan Showers adds to the dark nature of the piece. The use of shadows and minimal lighting adds to the grim atmosphere that’s present throughout. As Lawrence Miller falls, you can see it happening on every page.
However, with all that being said, there is a lot of exposition that occurs throughout the comic. It really isn’t until later on in story that we finally get some sense of interaction between characters and moments where said characters can just breathe. Even though we seem to follow the story in chronological order, there is simply too much narration for my liking. Lawrence Miller has a number of moments where he speaks with such poetry and poignancy that are overshadowed by his constant narration. Which is a shame because his journey is an interesting one.
Despite the minor flaws in narration, the story was still an interesting read. Lawrence Miller’s descent and journey through the afterlife is nothing but pure, raw emotion. The comic doesn’t shy away from the damage he causes to others, including his own family. And it certainly doesn’t shy away from the mistakes he makes throughout the piece. It’s a rarity to see a work that has the capability to do that while also it to us through a relationship that is not often shown.