Like so many other souls living in the world of the webcomic Judecca (NSFW), Sharky lives a shabby life, spending his days in Sisyphean labor and his evenings with too little warmth and too little food in the company of his rabbit roommate, while his own body becomes more like a shark's. But when a mysterious mute girl begins inserting herself into his life, Sharky's quiet purgatory threatens to become far more dangerous.
In the Divine Comedy, Judecca is one of the sections of the river Cocytus, where the souls of traitors reside. And the comic, co-written by Jonathan Meecham and Noora Heikkilä and drawn with lovely gloom by Heikkilä, is a blend of afterlife mythology. The ferryman Kharon transports transparent shades. Sharky works on the docks for the fearsome Minos. And the souls who live on the island make vague references to their lives before while they gradually transform into physical representations of their sins.
Although no one leaves the island, many of its denizens eventually go further in, or else go mad from their transformations. Sharky seems intent on maintaining a sort of stasis, keeping a spartan but not unhappy household with Frederick Dickinson, a bookkeeper in the shape of a rabbit. But when a mute girl with a Glasgow smile begins appearing in their house uninvited, Sharky may find himself caught up in the very elements of the island's power structure he's been trying to avoid. At the same time, the mysterious figure who rules the island senses something is amiss, and sends Lilith, a soul who revels in sexual and physical violence, to investigate.
Judecca is afterlife story that feels like it's set in a punishing place, even though it doesn't rely too heavily on Dantean views of punishment. Those who are triggered by depictions of violence should be warned that the comic features rape, cannibalism, and other violent acts, and for folks who might be reading at work, one of the characters frequently appears naked. But in the midst of all this violence, Judecca is about people trying to make a life in this terrible place and trying to hang on to something of their humanity when everything is pushing them to the next phase of their existence.