Collecting the first eight issues of Stjepan Sejic’s Death Vigil, this graphic novel tells the story of an ancient league of immortals, a group whose job it is to protect all life from necromancers and the vile fiends from the Underplane. Armed with reality-altering weapons called Veilrippers, they wage the never-ending war against evil, fighting in dark corners, graveyards and abandoned buildings. There's only one catch; to become a member of the Vigil, you have to die first.
Sejic has taken on full creative duties for this story, and he excels at all of them. It's the art that takes immediate hold, with its stunning level of detail. Every panel leaps out from the page, vibrant colouring bringing them to life, creating layers that take on an almost three-dimensional effect. When characters look out of the page, there's a genuine sense that they're meeting the reader’s gaze, inviting them to observe the story that unfolds.
Every comic book reader will have read a plot involving a new recruit who must learn their powers to help the team, but Sejic plays on this familiarity, adding intriguing twists and turns that avoid the path of cliché. The members of the Vigil share the bonds of a family, but also possess the jealousies, fears and bitterness that cause dispute and, in extreme cases, betrayal. They’re all too human, fallible despite their vast powers. It's not all doom and gloom, as Sejic writes with refreshing humour, visible in expressions and dialogue, creating scenes that will have readers laughing out loud as he rebels against expectations.
Death Vigil is a book that has something for everyone, yet there's no sense that its creator has compromised his vision in any way. Massive high concept battles sit alongside more intimate moments of warmth, each portrayed in the same glorious detail, Sejic’s obvious devotion to every page giving the reader a feast for the eyes. His characters are warm and friendly, while their bizarre enemies are pulled from the darkest parts of the imagination. It's a story with a varying pace, yet it never falters, treating its readers with respect by drip-feeding information rather than exposing it in huge chunks. Sejic is at the top of his game here, making Death Vigil a memorable and entertaining experience that should not be ignored, one that will hopefully continue beyond these eight issues.
DEATH VIGIL VOLUME 1 / WRITER & ARTIST: STJEPAN SEJIC / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW