Now I admit that I’m not very familiar with a lot of comic artists. I know people who can list comic artists off like nobody’s business, but I would struggle to name more than a couple. One of those would be Croation artist Stjepan Sejic (and I apologize but I’m honestly not 100% sure how to pronounce that.) His artwork is incredible and he’s a pretty darn good writer as well. I like most of his stuff, but his original series ‘Death Vigil’ is easily my favorite.
Imagine, if you will, a world under siege by Cthulhu-like demons and the sorcerers who work for them in exchange for eternal life. The only real defense humanity has against them comes from the most unlikely of places: The Grim Reaper and her superhero zombies. Seriously. In ‘Death Vigil,’ there are “gifted” people who can become necromancers by tattooing themselves with ancient designs in order to graft demons into themselves, granting them various powers and effective immortality. (This is actually a nitpick I have. The necromancers should be called “demonologists” or something like that, since they’re dealing with demons, not raising the dead. Oh, well. The series is good enough I’m willing to overlook it.) If a gifted person dies without having ever become a necromancer, then the Reaper (called Bernadette by her friends) can recruit them into the Death Vigil, granting them immortality and a “veilripper” which gives them the powers they need to fight the necromancers and their demons. The goal of the Vigil is not to kill necromancers but rather to use their veilrippers to seal a necromancer’s gift so they can no longer bring demons into our world. The main viewpoint characters are the two newest recruits to the Vigil: Sam Lewis, who joined a dozen years before when he was killed trying to stop a robbery, and Clara Jenkins, who was murdered by her necromancer boyfriend as part of a ritual to summon an incredibly powerful demon.
Clara struggles to learn the ropes of being part of the Vigil in a time when necromancers are suddenly becoming more powerful and are succeeding at killing members of the Vigil in numbers unheard of before. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, there seems to be something different about Clara and her powers that she cannot explain.
Unbeknownst to the Vigil, the Pale Court (the ruling organization of necromancers) has returned now that they’ve recovered a lost codex of eldritch knowledge that could bring them enough power to defeat the Death Vigil once and for all. But first the Court has to deal with the only woman capable of translating it for them, and she is far from loyal to them, translating the codex for her own mysterious reasons. Fortunately for the Vigil, an old “ally” of theirs is coming to their aid. But will it be enough to save the world?
Let me reiterate just how good the art is in this series. Sejic is incredible. In my opinion, he’s seriously one of the best comic artists out there today, bar none. His human character designs are great and the demon designs are seriously cool. The story is compelling and complex without being complicated and touches on themes of death, loss, and betrayal. And then there’s stuff in there that’s just plain awesome like Hugin, a Raven member of the Vigil who can turn into a T-Rex, or the Viking zombies that Sam can summon to help him fight demons. Sejic knows what’s awesome, and he uses it liberally in his work.
Seriously, I cannot recommend Death Vigil highly enough. Go out and buy it. It had an eight issue run and there is an omnibus version of it as well, which is what I have. It’s meant to be the first volume of several, and the better its sales are, the more of a priority the next volumes become. And believe me, the world needs more ‘Death Vigil’ in it.