From the very first page, the first issue of Death Vigil (Top Cow/Image Comics) sucked me right in to its comic-y goodness. Samuel Lewis has just died in a really sucky turn of events, thanks to some unknown bad guy thinking he was a cop with a real gun, when he was just dressed as one for Halloween. Needless to say, his gun was a prop. So I’m reading Sam’s inner monologue as he dies, and expecting a bunch of light or hellfire (you never know), when this nice looking blonde dressed like a level 32 mage from WoW informs the very deceased Lewis that he was chosen to be a member of The Vigil.
That blonde is actually Death, and threads from the Gandalf collection at JC Penney aside, she’s actually pretty cool, down to earth, and her nickname is Bernie (Her name is Bernadette). I so see what was done there. Fast forward 12 years, and Sam is now a muscled up member of The Vigil nicknamed The Digger. He’s badass, wields a sweet pickaxe and a shovel that both glow, and has charm for days. He and Bernie get along super well, and he is good at killing evil creatures and destroying necromancers.
Unfortunately, something or someone is powerful, willing, and able enough to start taking out fellow members of The Vigil, which is troublesome on one end, but terribly sad for Bernie because she’s the one that recruited them into their position in the afterlife. She has history with them. She’s kind of like their fairy death godmother.
Death Vigil #1 also focuses on the tragic murder of a young woman named Clara at the hands of her necromancer boyfriend Jon after he takes her to the cemetery at night (!!) under the pretenses of leaving flowers at his dad’s grave. Sam the Digger is summoned somehow, only to find that Jon has an army of monsters at his disposal thanks to Clara’s soul. Despite summoning up a bunch of dead vikings, it’s a battle they are about to pay for dearly until Bernie and her raven show up. They do away with the monsters and the necromancer, but Clara is still dead and must join The Vigil because of the power she wields, or else it’s curtains for her. Of course, she joins them after some initial resistance and rage. Unfortunately, it’s not over yet. Whoever is trying to kill members of The Vigil is more determined than ever after this latest failed attempt.
There was some really good humor, both lighthearted and dark, in this issue. More than once I found myself chuckling at the banter between Sam and Bernie. With that said, the story was super interesting because of the quandary presented. Who is trying to destroy The Vigil and why? I really didn’t want this issue to end. The only good thing is Death Vigil #2 drops next week (yeah, I’m late!).
I really have to give Stjepan Sejic a lot of credit. He is not only the creator/writer, he’s also the artist. Not only did he come up with an absorbing tale about the afterlife that melds horror and humor wonderfully, he drew emotive characters that we can relate to. How is it possible to like Death? Sejic found a way to make empathize. And that’s pretty refreshing.