Stjepan Sejic has been building up to an epic showdown between Team Evil and Team Good for a while now, pretty much since the start actually. He has shown us the Death Vigil through the eyes of the new recruit Clara and at the same time we have also seen some stuff with many of the other members of the Vigil, focusing on their histories and their personalities as they are. It has all been enormous good fun thus far and I doubt that Stjepan is going to take a break from any of it for a good long while since he is so damn good with this book, whether we talk writing or art.
The latest issue of Death Vigil sees Team Evil finally let loose on an unsuspecting world and it has some enormously great cinematic scenes that show that all is not well for the Vigil or for the Reaper herself, Bernadette. There’s so much to like about this issue, especially since we finally get a history on Allistor and Mia, two necromancers who are also kinda-sorta friends with the Vigil. If you’ve liked the previous issues then this one is certainly going to be very appealing since it crystallizes a lot of things and Stjepan has aced the story and the art once again.
Unlike the previous issues, this issue does something different, it focuses on each of the primary cast and many of the supporting cast without there being a clear leader of the pack for the reader to latch on to. And that’s pretty good since now we get to see where they all fit into the larger picture and are also able to gain a wider perspective on things that are happening. Particularly with Allistor and Mia, we get some great scenes that show their relationship with each other and with the Vigil itself.
The basic premise of this issue is that Maria, one of the “contracted” independents working for the Pale Court, convinces one of the leaders of the Pale Court to finally let loose on the world to draw out the Vigil and thin their numbers, allowing both of them to get what they want. And what they want is something rather disastrous, as I’m sure most people have figured out by now if they are reading this series. Suffice to say that the interactions between Maria and the Pale Court are some of the highlights of this issue, by far.
Then there’s the whole exploration of the exact relationship between Allistor and his daughter Mia, and their relationship with the Vigil itself. I loved this sections. They added so much to the characters, all of them, and the fact that Clara gets Maria to spill the beans is quite a masterstroke, both in-universe and for the reader. There’s some tragedy involved of course, and I like how Stjepan is able to provide such a succinct description of Allistor’s history with Bernadette in a way that doesn’t come across as heavy-handed and even plays into some of the readers’ expectations.
Also, we get to see how things are between Sam and Clara. We had that one issue where Clara spent most of her time trying to figure out how to use her Veilripper and the associated powers and then she finally got it in a surprising twist that left Sam and the others very confused and surprised. Now we see the fallout here and I loved pouting Sam here. He is so delightful as a character. And Clara and Bernie themselves rocked this issue starting to finish, so there really is nothing in this issue that I can call out for not being good enough.
As always, Stjepan’s art is excellent. The whole cinematic feel steps up a notch in this issue since there are so many gorgeous scenes involving monsters and transformations into monsters, and Stjepan nails them all with an ease borne of practice and facility. Honestly, this is pretty much his best work to date, whether we talk in general or specifically to do with Death Vigil. He also ends the story on an excellent note, setting up a pretty epic showdown that I can’t wait to see happen.
The first issue challenged my perceptions and each issue has thankfully built on that to do new and interesting things. This book is way better than just “good enough”. It is excellent!