Today in random shit: Hell is other people in Koren Shadmi’s ‘The Abaddon’

March 21, 2012 at 8:41 am (Random Shit) (, )

(Warning: Contains spoilers)

I discovered Koren Shadmi’s webcomic ‘The Abaddon‘ earlier this morning through a ComicsAlliance article. Until then I only knew Shadmi through StumbledUpon and his art work of a woman devouring an octopus. I didn’t know Shadmi made comics. Didn’t even know Shadmi was a dude.

The Abaddon is currently 117 pages long. I thought I’d look through the first bit and save the rest for when I wasn’t in the office and supposed to be working. Ended up reading the whole thing in one go.

abaddon 1

What got me into The Abaddon (which Wikipedia will tell you means ‘destruction‘) is the idea of a bunch of people in a closed space for what might potentially be forever and ever.

Shadmi says he was inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre’s play ‘No Exit‘, where what looks like a small hotel room is quickly revealed to be the personal Hell of the three people stuck there. In the webcomic, it’s a Brooklyn-style apartment with a guy named Ter, and his new roommates – a brute, a pin-up girl, a doormat, and a cat lady. None of the roomies have clear recollections of who they were before coming to the Apartment – all they have are mono-syllabic names, which as far as the reader can tell are bits of what might have been their real names a long time ago.

No one knows how long they’ve been in the Apartment either. Even Ter quickly loses track of how long he’s been around, and that’s just in the first few pages.

abaddon 3

Like in No Exit, what makes being stuck in a closed space worse is that the bunch of people you’re stuck with seem to have been picked for their complete inability to get along with one another. Everyone wants something from someone else – affection, attention, sex, control – but no one is willing to give anyone else what they want.

This takes a turn for the fucked-up when you realize physical action leaves no lasting damage on other people – things like potentially fatal wounds are temporary. You cannot kill anyone, and you yourself cannot die.

There isn’t much by way of distraction either – there are books but they can’t be read. There’s nothing to eat but goopy beer and bad coffee. It’s suggested that although certain characters (ie. Ter) get knocked unconscious every now and then, real, actual sleep is impossible. What you’re left with is a conga line of awkward, annoying, potentially violent confrontations for what could be the rest of eternity.

Ter, being the main character, and a military man (as suggested by brief flashbacks from his ‘real’ life), has taken it upon himself to find a way out.

He follows hints that the Apartment is not as impenetrable as it seems – his companions refer to a previous roommate who “disappeared” before Ter showed up. Another character, the ‘next-door neighbor’, seems to be able to come and go as he pleases, although no one can tell Ter how.

abaddon knock

[SPOILERS] By the end of the comic, he does seem to have found a way out. But as in nightmares you awaken from to find yourself in yet another nightmare, Ter may really just have walked out of a smaller cage to find himself in a bigger one.

It’s never explicitly stated  (although heavily implied) that Ter and the others are dead. I think the last two pages seal the deal – yes, he is dead, and there’s no going back to wherever he came from. [END OF SPOILERS]

For the reader, part of the fun is realizing that the Abaddon’s current 117 pages is really just the first part of a longer story. Shadmi launched what has become a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund Abaddon Part 2, which should begin updating soon.

Personally, I’ll probably wait until the entire thing has wrapped up to read it again. The trouble with webcomics with long story arcs is that they only put up a new page every few days (Mondays and Thursdays in The Abaddon’s case). Given how tightly-wound the story is, and how deep the mysteries can get, I may not be able to stand waiting for every. Single. Page. That would be my own personal hell.

Images taken from The Abaddon webcomic by Koren Shadmi.


1 Comment

  1. josh said,

    nice review, great comic

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