Talk about the surprise of the week! I knew that Stjepan Sejic had written before, I think he even did some writing at the now defunct Virgin Comics, but he’s been mostly an artist with his North American career. That honestly made me nervous because there are a lot of artists that have story ideas, but can’t write or control the pacing of a story. Death Vigil has some bumps in the road, but for the most part it’s a smooth road that it travels. Before I dive into the story I want to talk about the artwork because it’s unlike anything else I’ve seen from Sejic. I’ve given up on figuring out his style. Sometimes it’s computer modeling, sometimes it just drawn on a computer and then there’s Death Vigil that looks hand drawn, but probably isn’t. It’s definitely his best work to date, but I doubt that most people would look at it and recognize it as his upon first glance.
Our story beings with Samuel Lewis dying in an alleyway after trying to break up a mugging; he happens to be dressed like a police officer because of Halloween, but his plan to simply scare the mugger off backfired when he was shot in the gut. Just as he closes his eyes for the last time a woman’s hand reaches down and touches him. Suddenly his hair is blonde and the Grim Reaper is standing above him. She looks bad ass.
We jump twelve years in the future and find some wannabe occultists trying to summon death. They stop when they hear laughter and after the laughter continues they stop their ceremony and confront the person. Enter our dead man Samuel from before. He’s put on some muscle and is sporting a goatee now, all-in-all he looks like a bad ass. He’s also carrying two glowing tools a speared shovel and a pick axe. The wannabe occultists are quick to leave when he shows that he’s more than willing to throw down with them.
Long story short Samuel has the nickname “The Digger” because of his tools. He runs into some trouble later in the story and we get to see how much he’s changed. There’s someone after the Reaper’s soldier’s and he’s next on the list. After a rough battle he and the Reaper are put in a tricky situation as the dead Necromancer has created a tear between realms with a woman’s body being the keyhole. Now much like Samuel twelve years earlier, she has to decide her fate: live as a Vigil or accept her death.
I’ve told you bit and pieces of the story for sure, but fret not there is a ton I’m leaving out. The Reaper is known as Bernardette and she is not what you’d expect. She’s almost anime inspired in the way she’s old and yet young. She clearly has a deep connection to Samuel and they’re very comfortable around each other. It could be a forbidden romance or that of a mentor and protégé, but there is clearly something between them. Their interaction is very natural and believable.
Overall the story is great. I really liked the concept and Sejic’s execution is spot on. He does take a different approach than most comics in that you really have to read the entire issue to fully understand the world. It’s not something that you’ll just have all the answers to midway through and just enjoy the rest of the story as it plays out. You need to pay attention, but he makes it worth it.
His coloring is wonderful on the issue as well. The glowing tools that the Vigil’s all have are very cool looking. I wish I knew how that glowing effect was done because it makes everything pop off of the page. The coloring also adds to the overall aesthetic of the world and much like the art looks very different from Sejic’s other works.
The issue is also quite long. I don’t know if this is just going to be two issues and done, but I really hope not. Sejic has created a rich world and sucked me in. I’d really like to read more stories and explore this idea more. We’ll see in August, but in the meantime if you missed this issue then you should go back to your comic shop and get it now.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Stjepan Sejic Publisher: Image/Top Cow Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/9/14 Format: Print/Digital