In Review: Pestilence: A Story of Satan #4

If this is Hell, give me more!

The cover: A lone knight stands ready to battle the dead. His shield shows that he’s a demon killer, as it bears the image of a creature being skewered. Behind him is a structure that features banners waving in the wind, while below several bodies are still hanging by the neck. Swords are plunged into the ground, ready to be yanked free should the need arise. Carrion birds litter the setting, ready to feast on those bodies that no longer move after dying. Somber imagery by Tim Bradstreet in black and tan. Overall grade: A

The story: Frank Tieri, from a story crafted by him, Eric Bromberg and Brandon Auman, has the issue set entirely by a campfire at night. Isabel recounts her tale of how she was infected by the undead and was ready to turn when a light from the sky came down, signaling that the tide against the legion of walkers had turned. She awoke after drinking from the Holy Grail that Cardinal Shaw provided. “…He saved me. And it is because of him…that I sit here before you this day.” She reveals a tattoo on her arm that shows how she has helped the Cardinal and continues to do so after his death. She tells her tale to Roderick and her men, explaining that a specific order has helped the world before, in a different country, and she recounts that tale. Once she’s concluded her tale someone of their group reveals that they have been infected and taken over by Satan and chaos then reigns. The heroes learn some valuable information from their former friend and look to all fall before him until something surprising happens on Page 13. This hasn’t been shown before in this series, so it suggests that something may yet save those infected. Naturally Tieri will not leave the heroes felling lucky for too long, for a turn of the page has the protagonists confront a new group of villains, but not the ones they were expecting. The battle is good and ends with a cliffhanger that will tear Roderick’s heart apart. The final two panels of the book are the perfect conclusion to this installment, leaving the heroes and readers questioning one’s fate. Great storytelling, delivering backstory and tense action. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue is quieter than previous issues, with the threats not being the overwhelming numbers as seen in previous issues. Oleg Okunev does not let his skills lessen on this issue, turning in another outstanding visual experience for readers. The first four pages show Isabel’s desperate battle against the undead and her resignation to becoming one of their members. Her battle on the first page looks terrific and the last panel on the page shows her loss. The second page is great for visually showing how she’s become one of their number and what it took for her to survive among them. The last panel on Page 3 is glorious for the hope it shows in the defeat of the unholy masses. Isabel’s return to the living on 4 is great. The look of joy on her face is perfect. Contrast her visage at the end of 4 with her manner on 5 and one can see how time has not healed all her wounds or fears. I especially like the second panel as she stares into the fire. Her reveal on the page is great and I like how this image creates a fourth panel that leads directly into the fifth. The new character shown on 7 is chilling, the top of 8 is terrible, and, sadly, not the stuff of fiction. The face shown at the bottom of this page is great. Notice how this heroic face is countered by that that ends 9. The items springing from this character’s head are just awesome, making the individual look ever more unholy. The last two panels on 13 look great; Okunev gives them great movement. The full-paged splash of 15 shows the full on attack of the new antagonists and it looks cool, with fighting filling every inch. Page 18 telegraphs plainly in its second panel what’s going to occur, but I was still unprepared for it, my voice echoing that of the person at the bottom of the page. This series has had many, many horrific visuals, but seeing Roderick in his state on the final page is perhaps the worst. My hat is continually off to Okunev for his incredible visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: Guy Major takes over as colorist this issue and does a handsome job. Isabel stands out against her zombie foes with a beautiful emerald cloak, while her enemies are grays and browns. As she begins to turn, her skin becomes pasty. The heavenly light from the sky is gorgeous in neon blue, as if created by the Lord. When she is pulled back from the brink by Cardinal Shaw her skin is pale, but soon regains its normal flesh tones once she drinks from the holy relic. The night sky that surrounds her and her allies as they sit around the fire is stunning in blue. I really like the glow the fire casts on her and the others. The stark reds on 7 instantly told me who was not to be trusted. The yellows on Page 8 age Isabel’s story really well. When the protagonist begins to speak on 9 the dialogue balloons are given a yellow-orange border enhancing his evil nature. Whenever this character’s extra appendages appear they are in a bloody red to make his appearance even more hellish. Violent sounds get some vivid reds to accentuate characters’ deaths. Major is doing a terrific job. Overall grade: A

The letters: I will always praise the unholy dialogue of those possessed by Satan. Letterer Marshall Dillon makes this the most blasphemous font I’ve ever seen for a supernatural character. It looks as though it’s oozing off the page each time it appears, as if it crawled out of a dark hole. It’s fantastic! Dialogue, sounds, and yells are also crafted by Dillon for this issue and they are great, with those sounds being perfect inclusions into the action sequences. Any time Dillon letters a book, I know the text is going to look good. Overall grade: A

The final line:¬†Fascinating backstory and history are revealed, but dangers attack in the present, dealing a horrible blow to one hero. This is a fantastic saga of the devil’s continual battle to consume the world. The characters are heroic and engaging, the visuals are beautiful and horrific, the colors wonderful, and the lettering perfection. If this is Hell, give me more! 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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