Death Vigil (Volume 1)

Death Vigil Volume 1 (Death Vigil Tp) - Stjepan Sejic, Stjepan Sejic

[I received a copy of this comics through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This volume gathers issues 1 to 8, and while it's not necessarily the most original take on the concept (the Reaper as a sort of goth girl + the scythe), I pretty much enjoyed it no matter what. Because, well, let's be honest: I like goth chicks with scythes. Also I always have a soft spot for necromancy in general. And when it comes to toying with tropes.

I really liked the artwork and colours, although sometimes it was hard to differentiate between characters when their hair weren't distrinctly black or white, and the author/artist went a bit heavy-handed when it came to cramming a lot of details in a panel. Granted, I read a PDF copy, which didn't help (especially with panels on two separate pages—I had to change my display). It wasn't such a big problem in the long run, just at times. Overall, the art grabbed me.

The scenario itself was somewhat simplistic: the Vigil (good guys) vs. the Necromancers (bad guys), complete with mysterious writings in the hands of a semi-crazy scientist/archaelogist bent on transcribing them. Nothing too original, but... it still worked. Sometimes you don't need uber-original to be happy. There was action, and monsters, and cute monsters (Mia!), and Necromancers (some stupid, some definitely creepy), and puns (cheesy, but I've been known to be a much worse punster at times). Bad puns galore and characters dealing in death and horror, yet keeping a sense of humour? Count me in. Necromancers being both badass yet also highly ridiculous in how they always (always: even Sam, one of the main characters, keeps remarking about it) take their shirts off before running to battle? I am a simple being; this kind of stuff amuses me. It may be dumb, but it worked as far as I was concerned, possibly because I was in the mood for it.

Apart from the art and from smiling at the puns and all, what I also liked was the diversity. The people gravitating about Bernadette the Reaper were a family of sorts, all of different backgrounds and age, with strong bonds. A lot of female characters, too, and not the damsel-in-distress type: Marlene saves the day more than once, Grace looks frail yet is everything but, Clara actually gets back on her feet fairly quickly and embraces her power (which is fun, even though at first sight her weapon seems useless) instead of remaining "the typical clueless newbie who needs to learn all the ropes from Big, Burly Senior Male Characater"... That was refreshing.

Speaking of powers, while the scythe, knives and spade+pickaxe combination remain more "classical", there's also an interesting gallery here. James is a MMORPG player and his weapon is a deck of cards, which he uses as if he were playing Magic. Clara's a feather which can do other things than just write. Chiyoko and Vlado can't speak each other's language, but their powers work really well together, and they have developed other means of communicating.

I'll gladly pick the next volume. The subplot revolving around Clara, the mystery around Bernadette's origins, Sam and his relationships with his tools (and also the hand)... Those make me want to know more.