Stjepan Sejic’s Death Vigil has been one of the most fun new comics to come out this year, by far and it is also a comic that I absolutely love. Characters or story or art, Death Vigil is like a masterclass in storytelling in comics, and it is something that everyone should be reading. In the first three issues we’ve seen Stjepan bring together his main cast and introduce their enemies. The extra-length first issue helped immensely in that regard, the size of two issues really, and the following two regular issues have done much to expand on all of that.
Death Vigil #4 continues Stjepan’s excellent worldbuilding as we begin to learn ever more about the necromancers who have been causing all sorts of problems for the Death Vigil, a group of immortal guardians of the Veil between worlds who are led by none other than the Grim Reaper herself, Bernadette, alternatively referred to as Bernie or Dette in the comic. Aside from all the stuff we see about the villains, we also get to meet some old friends of the Vigil, whom we’ve seen before in small cameos, and that subplot here lends itself to some great drama, in typical Stjepan Sejic style.
Clara, the newest member of the Vigil, is our protagonist for the series and we’ve seen a lot of her in the previous issues. I love Clara immensely, and really love all her scenes since theres a particular zest for life that she has, and she is the reader’s surrogate in exploring the Vigil. But that doesn’t mean that the other characters get short shrift or anything, because more than any other issue, in this one we really get to see the other characters, such as Bernie, or the necromancers of the Pale Court who are working against the Vigil, or even characters like James or Marlene, or their allies Allistor and Mia.
As before, one of the best things about Death Vigil #4 is the characters. I love them. Every single one of them. And Hugin just might be the most awesome of them all, seriously. A raven who can transform into a giant bird-monster with a snap of his claws? Come on, that is comics gold, as far as I’m concerned.
And then there’s Sam of course, one of the other protagonists of the series. Clara is the character who often gets the most focus, but it is Sam who does almost all of that. He is a fairly new member to the Vigil, as such things go, and he is also the coolest, with a nice punk rock vibe that I really, really like about him. Maybe even a bit death metal? Can’t say for sure, but it is definitely there. This issue features a lot of his introspections about Clara and how well she has adapted to life as a member of the Vigil. The issue explores some new themes with her character, and we are right there with every step of the way thanks to Sam most of all.
This issue also marks the half-mark for the series since I’m told that this is an 8-issue mini-series, at least to start with. In that respect, the story is developing really nicely and I certainly have no issues at all with the pacing, not series-wide, not issue-wide. In fact, all the revelations and developments are paced out really well, and Stjepan focuses on everything according to the (seeming) needs of the story. We spend just the right amount of time with the villains as they continue their plans to bring down Bernie and the Vigil. We spend just the right amount of time with James putting down a necromancer, or Clara exploring the limits of her Veilripper’s powers.
Stjepan is still the artist on this series, pulling double duty with the writing aspects as well, and he delivers the same consistently awesome artwork in this issue as he has with the previous three. That’s all that I can really ask of any artist and Stjepan does not disappoint. Some new characters, some new monsters, and it all slots together perfectly in the end. And of course, any scene with both Bernie and Hugin in it is tres magnifique, so that is that as well. Still, I’d say that aside from the pencil-work, Stjepan’s colours also stand out and really give some solid definition to his linework.
Just someone tell me what I have to do to get Stjepan to switch this series to a bi-monthly format!