Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Artwork: Kyle Charles, Dee Cunniffe (colours)
Release Date: 18th April 2018
Reimagining Dante’s Inferno for the modern age, Her Infernal Descent is the latest offering from the creative partnership of Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson (co-writers of The Dregs and Come Into Me), and Kyle Charles (artist of Roche Limit). As such, and given the unquestioned pedigree of its creators, it was a new series I simply knew I had to take a look at.
The opening pages introduce us to our leading lady, a middle-aged mother struggling to come to terms with her grief following the loss of her family, and see her visited by the ghost of William Blake, who offers her the opportunity to save them by making her way through the nine circles of hell. As you do.
Nadler and Thompson infuse some interesting ideas into their story here, although the intentionally overwrought rhyming dialogue from Blake in the early pages does feel like a bit of a slog at times. It’s definitely a novel idea, but when he’s chiefly responsible for delivering the bulk of the exposition and pushing the story forwards, it does start to grate after a while.
The matter-of-fact responses from our protagonist inject a little humour into the otherwise bleak situation, and go a long way towards building an investment in her character on the part of the reader. There’s an understated likeability to her as she traverses these supernatural realms, remaining singularly focused on her destination and spectacularly unimpressed by all the bizarre happenings going on all around her.
As you might expect, Charles’ artwork more than holds up its end of the bargain, with brilliantly inventive page layouts and some subtly expressive characters. It’s in the second half of the issue where the story really kicks in, however, as our protagonist finally ventures into the underworld, and the way Charles and colourist Dee Cunniffe bring the first circle of hell – limbo – to life is refreshingly unique, and serves to showcase some of the real strengths of each man’s work.
While it’s definitely going to be interesting watching our protagonist traversing the different layers of hell, the real meat of the story is only hinted at briefly on the final pages, and suggests that Her Infernal Descent is going to be anything but a straightforward ‘rescue the family from hell’ scenario. Indeed, it seems that everything may not be as clear-cut as we initially thought, and that the relationship between our leading lady and her family may have almost as many layers as the hell she’s traveling through.
At the end of the day, Her Infernal Descent manages to reimagine an iconic work of literature in a strikingly creative fashion, and as such comes highly recommended. There are some minor flaws in the early delivery, but the latter stages of the book see things kicking into high gear, and I’m already finding myself deeply invested in this grief and guilt-stricken mother’s journey to reach her family.