Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sacrifice #1 Review

Sam Humphries is a name you should remember because he just recently sold out and achieved success with Our Love Is Real – which I reviewed very favourably here. He’s back, and self-publishing again, and the output this time is Sacrifice #1, of a 6 issue mini. This comic is pitched as existing somewhere between Joy Division and ancient Aztec culture. The result is a book somewhat strange, all together enjoyable, and one hell of a kick with loads of potential for the following five issues. Hit the jump to see why you should spend this week tracking this book down.

Sacrifice #1

Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Dalton Rose
Colours by Pete Toms

The simple start of this book shows us Hector – a guy too troubled to be let out and too lucid to be kept in. In short, he’s most likely a danger to everyone around him, and that’s completely not his fault. The melancholy on his face shows he’s been through this dance before and he constantly seems to trip over his own feet. Poor bastard just wants some peace, some happiness if he could, yet he knows it isn’t coming.

His attempted saviour comes in the form of Violet and while she tries well she’s up against insurmountable odds. Within minutes of their reunion, as he ditches the PSYCHIATRIC label, Hector races into the parking lot and drops to his knees. This isn’t because of the 99c tacos that were just in front of him; Hector has a much larger problem on his hands and this is metaphysically represented on a splash page of engulfing colours and smoky misdirections that shows you we aren’t in for some introspective muso-sadface railing against his existence. There be adventure afoot, and the most unadventurous lead thrust into this conflict.

It’s only onto the 5th page of the book and suddenly the swing turn occurs and everything changes. Granted, the lead going back to the days of the Aztecs is telegraphed in the concept pitch for the book, it still zooms onto the page like a fist flying at your face. The art in the first few pages is easy, perhaps even just plain simple, and yet those same lines are suddenly transferred as the landscape switches. Dalton Rose’s Aztec intrusion is quite simply gorgeous. The very first page shows a daunting figure looming over Hector and his shadowed visage pops with vibrant decorative line work. It’s as if the rave culture has permeated the barbaric warrior class and the outcome is a nightmare that will club you in the face to death.

Hector’s story intertwines with the struggle in this encampment to decide rule between Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopotchli – two gods who different factions worship and act for. Obviously, a modern day lad lumping into this world could be seen as a sign, a messiah, or an offering to be sacrificed toot suite. Hector has a large and intricate tattoo on his back that relates to this time period (and which is seeded as an interest at a young age by his father) and this connection is surely not just happenstance. A good narrative relies on convenient coincidence and an even better one ties it all together with meaning. There is the feeling Humphries knows what he’s doing with all these threads within the tale.

With time on his side, Hector understands more about the place and time he finds himself in than the people who actually occupy this space. He knows what is coming and understands the danger that is about to burn these pages down. The problem then is that time actually is not on Hector’s side and he’s going to have to hussle his ass just to survive himself – no less exact any kind of change if he so desires. This information is well seeded in the story yet is redundantly feed back to the reader in the final page. I wish Humphries had expected more of his audience and let them understand the peril central to this tale. The lines on the last page could have been represented visually, or with some crafty cross cutting and instead we get expositional words in our leads mouth that do not match the tone of the rest of the book. This doesn’t ruin the experience, it’s about my only bone to pick.

As far as story goes, this first issue sets up our character well, it builds the Aztec world very effectively, and the complication looms very large to ensure the next five issues certainly have some fun stuff to deal with. You will be intrigued by this issue to invest further in the mini.

However, then there is the art. At a cursory glance, this book will look extremely simple. Rose doesn’t complicate his line work or page composition. He’s clean and unobtrusive and still extremely pleasing. On top of this work is the sublime colouring of Pete Toms. He blends a psychedelic edge with the ability to also aid storytelling with his palette. The colours make this book richer and more vibrant and also more effective. Don’t quickly flip through this book on the stands. Take your time, immerse yourself in one page, and see how welcoming and alluring the art team truly are in their synchronicity. This is just downright beautiful.

Verdict – Buy It. Most people dig on smart comics that look damn fine. If you do, you can safely pick this book up and get ready for five more months of fun. Doing so will please your inner manchild wanting to read good work but it will also prove to the comic scene that independent, and sometimes self-funded, is something we will support and enjoy. Sacrifice offers you a character who clearly has to change and stand up to the narrative of the rich landscape around him. The high concept is pretty awesome and yet it’s the little things within it that will draw you closer in. The awe of seeing these Aztec warriors realised and the temptation of the blood to come is enough to make you worry and wonder. A comic should do no less.

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Anonymous said...

Our Love Is Real is the Scrotie McBoogerballs of comics.

Sacrifice, on the other hand, is a solid and intriguing read. It shows more discipline than Our Love Is Real and makes me want to read the rest of the series.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Can we quote you on that one? :)

I, obviously, liked OLIR but I do believe it is a book that must find its audience because it is not for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Sure, why not?

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