In Review: Pestilence: A Story of Satan #3

New foes, an ally, and the reveal of what the Plague is for lies within this unholy issue.

The cover: Three different faces can be seen on a knight whose chain mail headdress cannot contain his physical blasphemes. Facing forward is a screaming skull, its jaw open to show a wagging tongue that carries a green worm. Emerging where its ear should be is an eyeball looking lazily at the reader. From the back of this creature’s head is a second face that resembles a demon. Behind this fright are others of its ilk. Great creepy cover from Tim Bradstreet that draws the reader deeply into this horror to examine every awful aspect of it. Overall grade: A+ 

The story: At Westminster Abbey, Geoffrey approaches two guards from behind and smashes their heads together while comparing the action to something highly inappropriate. His verbiage is chastised by James and Roderick, who remind the gigantic knight that there’s a child present — Roderick’s son Abel, as well as his wife Jacqueline. “Ah, yes, Jacqueline. How could I forget our transformation from mercenary warriors to mercenary nursemaids these days…”  The quintet makes their way into the abbey, looking for hidden weapons within the holy building. As they enter they are unaware that they are being watched from a distance by a hooded individual. Finding the secret entrance to the weapons locker, thanks in part to a very intelligent member of their group, they discover that their quest has been in vain. Their disappointment quickly changes to a different emotion when someone makes himself known to the heroes. Frank Tieri, in a story crafted by him, Eric Bromberg and Brandon Auman, keeps the surprises coming quickly and violently in this issue. What the heroes have to deal with in that room is entertaining, while the hooded individual is a delightful surprise. For those wondering what’s happened to Pope Price, whose body is now inhabited by Satan, don’t worry — the story does return to Vatican, where Thomas is summoned before the unholy one and his throng of minions. There’s a wonderful surprise from Thomas, though it may lead to his ruin. There’s another cast of characters introduced in this issue off the coast of Portugal, and they are going to add to the heroes’ woes. The final page of the book is an excellent sick twist on what’s been shown previously and I’m on fire (No pun intended) to see what happens next. This story has plenty of action, some sick humor, and quite a bit of demonic doings. Overall grade: A+

The art: I continue to marvel at the work by Oleg Okunev. I am always wowed by his settings. Normally locations are not as equally well done as the characters in a comic, but Okunev’s are equally superior. The opening panel that establishes Westminster Abbey is gorgeous. The two guards taken out by Geoffrey hint at the threat of this book with just their lower faces shown. When Geoffrey dispenses with the pair in the bottom panel it looks terrific, with both men’s bodies violent slammed together at their heads. The subtlety with which James acquires the keys to the abbey is slick. The third panel on Page 3 is magnificent for its point of view. The tease at the bottom of the page is also fantastic. The action required to enter the secret room is fun, as is the reaction from one character as he enters. The large panel on 5 is a gut punch, while the sniveling character that appears on 6 has got an excellent design. 8 reveals all the troubles the heroes are now in. The return to the Vatican on 9 is excellent with debauchery oozing out of every panel. Thomas’s reactions to his situation are terrific. The entrance at the bottom of 11 is cinematic — this is where a film’s score would unquestionably swell. The reveal and reactions on 12 are thrilling. The new setting and vehicles on 15 are gorgeous and the full-paged splash on 16 is sensational. The final page is also a full-paged splash and it’s pure horror as it captures several unspeakable actions that will undoubtedly be shown in even more gory detail next month. This book is both beautiful and horrible to look upon: the perfect combination for this series. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Amplifying the visuals of this issue are the colors by Rob Schwager with Mark Englert. I so appreciate that much of this book is set in dark places, but this pair of colorists keep things bright enough for all the visuals to be clearly seen. Case in point, the opening page. It’s night outside the abbey, but dark blues are used to show the night sky, while the guards’ lantern and the glow it casts shows the reader that this scene is occurring at night. I also like how the first sound on the page is colored black to increase the fatal action. The successful move on the fourth page is given a warm orange background to show the action’s benefit to the group. When someone possessed by the devil speaks their dialogue balloons are given a sickly orange and red border to visually show they are no longer human. The variety of reds used inside the Vatican make it an absolute home for Hell on Earth. Take note how the red colors from the Vatican carry over to the heroes’ plight, showing their impending doom, only to be changed to a warm orange-yellow when a new character appears. The vehicles and characters are given beautiful colors off the coast of Portugal. The combination of crimson on flesh is the perfect way to end the monstrosity that closes this issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Marshall Dillon creates scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, and dialogue for Satan and his minions. The scene settings are beautiful, created in a flowing script that dates the story and gives it an instantly classical feel. The sounds are both big and small, depending on the action, and they are great. There are several different types of yells, from fright to surprise, that make the characters’ speech natural. The dialogue the characters speak is a little rougher looking than in most comics, giving it dated feel, further grounding it in its time period. The most delightful work done by Dillon on this issue is the demonic speech: it’s thin, uneven, and punctuated by bold letters for emphasis on certain words. It looks exactly as one would expect the devil to sound. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Every page contains a surprise or new horror for the heroes to impossibly overcome. The story is fantastic and the visuals are to die for! This should be in every horror fan’s collection. After all, if we don’t learn from this, it could all happen again. My highest possible recommendation goes to this book. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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