Overview

Last Days of an Immortal

Review

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Last Days of an Immortal

Credits

  • Words: Fabien Vehlmann
  • Art: Gwen De Bonneval
  • Publisher: Archaia Comics
  • Price: $24.95
  • Release Date: Nov 21, 2012

Sci-fi and philosophy converge in this thoughtful meditation on the pitfalls of immortality.

The product of French collaborators Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Bonneval, Last Days of an Immortal is another beautifully realized European import brought to North American readers by Archaia Comics and further proof we’re still a little behind our neighbours across the Atlantic when it comes to diverse and eclectic funny book content. A thought-provoking fusion of high science fiction and pop philosophy, Last Days of an Immortal explores such weighty themes as extra-terrestrial multiculturalism, cloning, immortality, and the convoluted legalities that arise from these ideas.

Following the investigation of a millennia-old double-murder by Earth’s foremost forensic philosopher Elijah, this is a book that might require multiple sittings to complete. Many of the concepts examined in Immortal deserve to be considered and even relished at the reader’s leisure. For North American audiences used to far more spectacle than substance in their comics, this book might read a little heavy. It’s a worthy and indeed valuable investment of time, though. In a present wherein science, medicine, and our own innate intellectual and emotional sophistication seem to be progressing at an exponential rate, it’s important to give thought to the ideas found in Immortals.

Vehlmann and De Bonneval succeed in realizing a wonderfully distinct secondary world, postulating a far future in which humanity has achieved virtual immortality through the use of “echoes,” totally autonomous clones capable of independent thought and action. A person may have numerous echoes at any given time, sharing thought and emotion even while separated by light years of space and time. Echoes also effectively extend the typical human lifespan indefinitely, allowing one to transfer their consciousness to one of their clones at the time of death, at which time the echo becomes the primary entity.

Elijah, unlike most Terrans, chooses to limit his use of echoes as much as possible and refuses to modify his appearance as many of his contemporaries do without hesitation. Concerned with losing his identity and cherished memories, Elijah struggles throughout the book to come to terms with his traditionally held notions of immortality and how eternity transforms everything from our relationships with one another to our self-image. With fleeting memories and extended lifespans, the opportunity to reinvent oneself occurs often and is a tempting proposition. How else to stay engaged in the day-to-day existence of an immortal and not become utterly, irrevocably bored?

One part philosophical treatise, one part high-concept sci-fi police procedural, Last Days of the Immortal is a quiet, reflective exploration of what it means to remain human when the world around us is in a state of constant flux and we ourselves refuse to change. A poignant and pointed metaphor for the fast-paced digital age we currently wade through, Last Days of an Immortal is a refreshing break from the mainstream current obsession with universe-spanning events and reboots. Highly recommended for the pop philosopher in all of us.

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