Twelve years ago, Sam Lewis tried to save two women from a mugger. He had just left a costume party dressed as a cop. He had hoped his prop gun might scare the mugger into running off. It did, but not before the mugger used his very real gun to fatally shoot Sam.
That might have been the end of Sam’s story were it not for his bravery attracting the attention of a passing wanderer. A beautiful woman named Bernardette, who had need of brave people like Sam. Brave dead people like Sam, to be specific…
Now, Sam is known as The Digger and he is a member of The Death Vigil. Armed with Veilrippers – magical weapons that can wound the incorporeal and alter reality – The Death Vigil protect the world of the living from necromancers, hostile undead and other minions of the dread being known as The Primordial Enemy, who seeks to destroy all life in the universe! As our story opens, it appears that The Primordial Enemy has begun taking the fight directly to The Death Vigil, singling out their youngest and weakest members as part of a sinister plot to destroy them once and for all!
Even before offering a full explanation of the book’s concept and The Death Vigil team to a new recruit, Stjepan Sejic inspires interest in both the concept and the characters. Much of the issue’s focus is upon Sam (The Digger) and Bernardette (The Reaper), but the conversation between them offers references to the death gods of many mythologies. For instance, another member of The Death Vigil we see in this issue is Hugin – a.k.a. The Raven – suggesting that Odin is involved in the work of The Death Vigil in some form or fashion. There is also a passing reference that Anubis is annoyed at Digger for surviving a particularly nasty battle against two Kroons. No explanation is given for what a Kroon is, but readers who are fans of other mythology-heavy fantasy series will likely be curious to find out.
Ignoring the novel concept, Sejic’s script is filled with humor that offsets the rather dark subject matter. Of particular note is a scene in which Sam heckles a group of goths in the cemetery he’s currently patrolling. The book’s central characters are immediately likable and those readers who aren’t mythology geeks will enjoy this series for their presence alone.
Sejic’s artwork proves to be the equal of his script – no surprise given his experience as an artist on other series! Sejic’s characters are distinctive and well-designed and the light inks set this book apart from other supernatural series where the rule of thumb for inking seems to be that you can’t have enough black in the artwork. Indeed, Sejic’s coloring is what truly makes this issue, with the members of The Death Vigil colored in subtly lighter hues than their mortal and demonic counterparts to suggest their ethereal nature.
Death Vigil #1 is a promising start to what may prove to be the best new supernatural series of 2014. It is a must read for all fans of the urban fantasy genre as well as those who enjoyed The Sandman or BPRD. Even those comic readers who are not fans of this sort of story would do well to check this one out for the interesting characters and (pardon the pun) gallows humor.