Advance Review: Heaven Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be In ‘High Heaven’ From Ahoy Comics

by Olly MacNamee

High Heaven is the second series announced from new publisher AHOY Comics, and it deals with the perennial problems of the afterlife. What’s it like? Is there a God? Is there a Hell? Y’know, the usual philosophical questions we all have from time to time.
Well, writer and editor-in-chief of AHOY Comics, Tom Peyer, would have us believe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Far from it. Heaven seems to be nothing more than a sterile, bland environment that can’t even be kept clean with all those angelic feathers falling everywhere. Not my idea of Heaven, and neither is it David’s, our down-on-his-luck loser who finds himself even queuing up to get in and making an ass of himself with all and sundry along the way. Hardly the best start to his new life. And, it only gets worse as he meets his assigned case worker and his new home. With each page it gets more and more depressing, and it would seem David was pretty depressed even before he got here. Imagine finding out that the afterlife – and Heaven at that – was far from the vision presented in religious institutions the world over.
Needless to say, like The Good Place, this is a darkly-flavoured, humorous look at what comes next once we have all ruffled off this mortal coil. Peyer introduces us to David, a person even the reader won’t warm to, with Gregg Scott offering up a grim, uninspired vision of the afterlife with a Klaus Janson-esque style that avoids adding any polish to Heaven. Highly appropriate for this particular book.

And, while David isn’t that liable, the people around him seem to be marginally worse, so maybe we do side with our hapless hero. It’ll be to Peyer’s credit if he can turn me into a supporter of David, but I imagine that’s the plan. I mean, Eleanor Shellstrop (from The Good Place, and played by Kirsten Bell) is equally an undesirable hero, but by the end of the first season, we’re firmly in her camp. And, David, even in Heaven, is the underdog, and we all love rooting for the underdog, right?
Following up on this promising main story is a more light-hearted ‘Sunday Funnies’ style strip, similar in both look and spirits to that included in The Wrong Earth #1 (reviewed here). Also written by Peyer with art by Chris Giarrusso, Hashtag: Danger is a fun look at a Fantastic Four type team of adventurers, but seen through the lens of modern day sensibilities and trends. Led by millennial trustafarian, Desiree Danger, it would seem our fearless leader is just as concerned with the team’s branding as she is in saving the world from Kirby-esue monsters and mayhem. Along the way we get to meet the other two members of this rather funky team, Sugar Rae Haung and Reed Richard archetype, Einstein Armstrong, who all seem to share the team’s rather unheroic values of monetising what they catch, kill or save. Very much the heroes the world deserves, when you think about it. And, it’s a great piece of satire masquerading as a kiddies-style humour strip.

Another prose piece by Grant Morrison, doing his best, as always, to live up to his self created status as comic book’s Voice Of Weirdness and a cartoon by The New Yorker cartoonist , Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man) which compliments High Heaven, and once again you’ve got a well rounded book with strips that will make you think as well as make you laugh.
As a first issue, with the black humour and satire you’ll find in this 40 page book, High Heaven certainly finds itself in a good place with me.
High Heaven #1 by Tom Peyer, Chris Giarrussso, Andy Troy (colours) and Rob Steen (letters) is out on September 26th from AHOY Comics.

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