Imagine if the black plague wasn’t just a horrible illness that caused many to perish back in the mid fourteenth century, but instead was a zombie virus sweeping medieval Europe? That was the concept of Aftershock’s Pestilence: A Story of Death, written by Frank Tieri (Jughead: The Hunger) with art by Oleg Okunev (Red Fury)...
...Now, both have returned with Pestilence: A Story of Satan #1, as have the survivors of Pestilence: A Story of Death. After the murder of a close friend, Geoffery and James track down Roderick, seeking his help in a mission of vengeance. Meanwhile, those that had become zombies and were saved by Roderick and his gang, find themselves in the throes of the villain behind the plague: Satan himself! Didn’t see that one coming, did you (he said with utmost sarcasm)?
With Pestilence: A Story of Satan #1, I really have to give Tieri credit. Between this and Pestilence: A Story of Death, he has begun taking us on an epic journey filled with courageous knights, zombies, and demons. Tieri knows how to write a story filled with intrigue, and in just the first few pages of this issue, we’re already drawn in by an assassination plot that would fit well in the pages of The Davinci Code. I’d be satisfied with a plot involving the corrupt church facing off against Roderick and his fellow knights, but to throw a pissed off Satan smack dab in the middle of it all? Hell. Yes. One would think this type of story would be worn down by now, (after all, we’ve seen thousands of tales of God vs the Devil), but in Roderick and the others, Tieri has given us a cast of characters so different from what we’re used to seeing, that the entire story feels fresh. These aren’t your typical charming, proper knights like you’d see in a Disney princess film. These men are vulgar sons of bitches, the kind of guys you want to have a drink with, and maybe get into a fight or three with if you’re feeling particularly rambunctious. You won't see too much of them in this first issue, but if you've read Pestilence: A Story of Death, you know what I'm talking about.
The art by Oleg Okunev, as in Pestilence: A Story of Death, is straight up chilling. Every frame that features Satan and his chosen vessel (which is just such a perfect choice, as I’m sure fans of Pestilence will agree), is surreal in its depiction. Dark red gushes off the pages like a bloody wound, and something about the zombies feels much more nightmarish this time around, as if they’ve upgraded to a whole new level of monstrous power and anger. Super zombies? And the appearance of Satan, in the brief glimpses that we see, is just AWESOME, as his blood red flesh is covered in the skulls/souls of the damned. You could get lost letting your eyes wander over the details of Okunev's work.
Honestly, the only gripe I really have with Pestilence: A Story of Satan #1, is the character of Satan himself. It may be nitpicky, but when I think of Satan, I think of an intelligent, powerful being who doesn’t need to stoop to foul, petty language to get his point across, because he doesn’t need to. He’s fucking Satan! However, in this first issue, Satan sounds more like a petulant teenager with phrases like “Fleshbag twat” or “stupid mortal cunt”, or, in response to a character uttering “oh my word”, Satan simply replying “Shut the fuck up”! I’m not holding this against Tieri, in a lot of stories, this is exactly the way Satan is written, and it fits well in the world he has created. I just prefer my Satan to be a little more Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate as opposed to my teenage rebel self, head banging to Metallica and screaming at my parents when they ask me how my day was.
Childish Satan or not, I’m already sold on Pestilence: A Story of Satan. I’d be surprised if horror fans don’t fall in love with the grim, gory world that Tieri and Okunev have created. This is one badass tale of crusading knights vs the creatures of hell that definitely should not be missed, and if its anything like the last time around, it will only get better.
By Matt Konopka