The Shepherd: Apokatastasis #1 begins with a bang. Though around for a few years now, the title from writers and co-creators Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari has found new life at Scout Comics and the effort to republish it has brought with it new stories. This first issue not only starts the original story, which we’ll get into below, but offers a look at the larger premiere of the series that first issues typically don’t provide. That window of “Here’s the larger premise” does a better job of selling the idea though and makes its new life under Scout even more exciting, which makes its later story something of a disappointment.
The inaugural issue is broken into two stories, “Do You Like Ghost Stories?” and “Origins.” Both are written by the father-son team that created the title and the first tale is simply fantastic comics. Featuring pencils by Luca Panciroli and colors by Pamela Poggiali, it weaves an elaborate tale of the place between worlds of the living and the dead, and how the titular Shepherd fits into it all. The Molinaris do an outstanding job explaining the premise for this series and establishing its rules in the narrative while also leaving a lot of space available for whatever the next adventure may be.
Though the writing is strong at a foundational level, Panciroli’s artwork is simply tremendous from start to finish. “Do You Like Ghost Stories?” offers him the chance to not only get wild with Kirby-like lines and rays flying throughout but to really dig into atmospheric aesthetics and monsters. To that end his panel work is thorough and shows off a grasp of knowing how to visually pace the individual beats of a story. Reveals happen from panel to panel that feel natural and can even take you by surprise. It’s hard to overstate how tremendous his artwork looks in this tale, and makes you wonder why Panciroli hasn’t been snatched up by one of the Big Two already.
“Origin,” the second story in this issue, is a step down however. Artist Ryan Showers’ work has good breakdowns that keep the story moving panel to panel, but the flat colors and basic artwork give you whiplash after reading the first tale. The story takes things back and reveals the time before the titular character was his hooded, magical self—just a regular guy. The Molinari's set-up feels tired in its execution frankly but by the time they get over the hump of the tragedy that readers know is coming, the story becomes much more interesting. Even then the static artwork doesn’t help, but the narrative progression is interesting enough to maintain your attention.
The Shepherd has an interesting premise elevated by the work of artist Luca Panciroli in the first story of this fresh debut issue. Writers Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari have a great story going here with a unique take on mythology and a clear grasp of what they want their story to be. This first issue is lessened by the artwork in its second narrative though which feels amateurish and flat throughout. In the end, this is a series to keep your eye on because the good will it earns with Panciroli's artwork in“Do You Like Ghost Stories?” cannot be overstated.
Published by Scout Comics
On January 27, 2021
Written by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari and Roberto Xavier Molinari
Art by Luca Panciroli and Ryan Showers
Colors by Pamela Poggiali and Heather Breckel
Letters by Joel Rodriguez and Jacob Bascle
Cover by Luca Panciroli