Bookshelf Reviews: A Second Chance at Sarah

A Second Chance at Sarah ( Dark Horse – Druckmann / Wong)

As his wife Sarah lies dying, John makes a deal with a demon for a desperate chance to save her! Transported to their childhood, John gets a single day to prevent the tragedy that led to Sarah’s present-day doom, all while trying to convince her that he really is who he says!

Bookshelf Reviews is the brainchild of Pullbox writer, Andy. It’s the idea that we go back and reread some of the great books we loved and see if they hit us in a different way years later. This book came back to my mind as I was reading the veil and hate-filled messages that write Neil Druckmann is being subjected to on Twitter for the story direction in the Last of Us 2 video game. Seriously, it’s bad. As I was reading the comments by numerous internet trolls, I recalled Neil’s OGN and the impact it had on me as a husband/father. So I went back for another look.

Here we go.

An original graphic novel from the Last of Us series creative director/writer Neil Druckmann (co-writer/creative director of the award winning videogames: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Last of Us) and acclaimed digital painter Joysuke Wong comes this gripping supernatural adventure about love, loss, and time-travel.

When is comes to comic publishers who specialize in creator owned indie comics and graphic novels, there is a short list of names that comes to mind. At the top of my list sits Dark Horse.  Dark Horse does an awesome job bigger properties,  but their roots are in creator owned indie books.   A Second Chance at Sarah is a graphic novel that you feature on your book shelf or coffee table. 

It’s an emotional and compelling story that touches both teen and adult readers. This is one of those graphic novels you give to your friends who says they don’t read comic books. As a husband and father, I think this book touched me on a very personal level. Even years after my initial reading, the story reaches in your chest and squeezes your heart.  Druckmann hits at the core of being a man when he asks the question, “What would you do for your wife and child?” Seriously, how far would you go? Our main character, Johnny, is faced with this question and makes the choice that, I still think, every man would make.  Unfortunately, Johnny is dealing with a swindling demon (is there any other kind?) and is going to have a tough time to getting the job done.

Druckmann is successful in drawing his reader in and making them feel for these characters almost instantly.  Johnny is fighting for his wife’s soul and his son’s future.  It didn’t matter what transgressions Johnny may have committed in the past, readers are automatically pulling for this guy to win. It’s rare that I feel so strongly for a character so early in a book.   An interesting twist on the story: Johnny is transported back to high school, his junior or senior year, where the bulk of this story takes place.  Not only does Johnny need to save his future wife, but he has to do it before he ever really knew her.  Re-writing his own courtship with Sarah, Johnny does what he can to keep his time-traveling a secret, but in the process almost blows the whole deal.  Some pretty big dramatic and intense moments are created here. One is due to the fact the Johnny and Sarah are very real people.  They very well could be the couple in the apartment across the hall, or the house across the street. The second is that there is a very real sense of urgency.  Johnny is working on borrowed time and throughout the story, the clock is ticking.

So it’s pretty obvious that I loved the story.  As for Joysuke Wong’s art….I loved that too! The painted style that Wong brings to the table is the perfect coupling to Druckmann’s story. Wong’s art has a slight manga style to it, but at the same time looks very real. One common complaint I’ve heard from people who don’t read comics is that the art is too cartoony and unrealistic.  Not the case here.  There are moments who the anatomy is wrong, but I’ve seen worse out of Hollywood blockbuster CGI where they are going for realism.  Wong is able to stretch the realistic to make it work without breaking into your typical comic book style artword.  Joysuke Wong has a firm grasp on the intricacies of visual story telling is definitely worth looking up.

As far as bookshelves go, this graphic novel is relatively recent with my first review back in 2010. But unless you get a movie deal out of it, an OGN can leave the collective consciousness pretty quickly. Also, in terms of marriage and parenthood, ten years can be a life time. Coming at this after a decade I can say the entire book certainly holds up over time. It still pulls all the same heartstrings, and maybe more so since I’ve had more kids, tempered my marriage, and generally strengthened my relationships. On every front, Johnny’s plight still hit’s home.

If you can’t find this book at your local comic shop it’s still available on Amazon.

Score: 12/13

Updated: July 8, 2020 — 1:33 pm

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