Having a second chance at life has its perks for Vigil members.
New clothes, powerful weapons and abilities, no more taxes, and … life.
And so it goes for Clara Jenkins, the Vigil’s newest recruit who goes through her initiation process in Stjepan Sejic’s Death Vigil #2. After getting a new uniform and veilripper — a feather — Clara follows her new allies Bernie and Sam Lewis to Vigil headquarters by way of the Veil, a lifeforce tunnel that’s used as transportation and nourishment.
Interspersed through the issue are Sam’s takes on Clara’s journey from life to death and life again as he relives his own experience. Sam’s perspective is perfect — his emotional honesty and forthcoming nature makes him not only one of Bernie’s favorites but a fan-favorite as well.
We also get to see a bit of action from two other Vigilites — James and Marlene — who go up against a foe formerly known as Slippery Simon. Simon’s been upgraded with a new and powerful sigil which grants him a powerful summon.
Things have been escalating between the Vigil and the Enemy, so James and Marlene decide it’s time for answers. They approach the battle looking to take Simon down without sealing him immediately which leaves James in the line of fire. After a close call, Marlene takes down Simon and interrogates him.
Death Vigil #2 is another over-sized issue that’s packed with content — and by content I mean history, characters, and plot that progresses. The first issue gave readers a glimpse of the premise and lore, and this second issue expands the universe.
As writer and artist, Stjepan Sejic’s unfiltered vision splashes the panels with amazing artwork and distinct personalities.
There’s plenty of chemistry between Sam and Bernie, and the flavor of their dialogues shows us there are plenty of layers beneath what they display on their outermost level.
Bernie, especially, seems the most complex and well-written. Her attempts at humor along with her manic dialogue hide an emotional core that’s all too familiar with what’s at stake. In a sense, she is mother to the Vigil, responsible for the soldiers in her charge. But she can’t ensure their safety — by keeping them from death’s door, she gives them one more chance at life, albeit a dangerous one that puts each one of her children in harm’s way.
Sejic could have easily written Bernie to the background — a brooding master making appearances to drive the plot by barking orders — but instead, he’s created a character brimming with personality. And with humor, it’s often relegated to sidekicks who are defined by the trait. With Bernie, the puns and outgoing nature are a mask, and we want to know more about who’s underneath it.
In fact, each of the characters is a canvas coming alive. As much as we can determine certain traits and proclivities, there’s plenty more to mine and explore. James, for example, is a gamer whose veilrippers are playing cards a la Yu-Gi-Oh, and in his off-times, he’s raiding with his guild on an unspecified MMORPG. You would think he’s a geek — and you’d probably be right. But that doesn’t mean he’s hapless. On the battlefield, James displays some incredible abilities being able to summon things with his cards. In another scene, we get a taste of his creativity when he gives Clara a tutorial on the workings of the Vigil with a visual presentation.
The art and scripts come together for a comic book that just excels. It’s entertaining on all fronts, and there’s urgency here that’s building up from the roots under the soil.
We’re left with two contrasting figures in the midst of creation. The first is the presumed antagonist behind it all — a young girl hard at work, creating sigils.
The other is Clara, learning how to use the feather she’d be given as her veilripper. Her free hand reaches behind her, touching a an ominous marking.
If this is the status quo, Death Vigil is a winner. Its world is immense, and the storytelling is rife with the things readers want to enjoy. It’s worth a pull-list spot, and if you’re into grand plots with extraordinary characters, you’d be remiss to let this slip by.
Death Vigil #2 (2014)
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Words: Stjepan Sejic
Art: Stjepan Sejic
Letters: Stjepan Sejic