Written By Stephan Frost
Art by Sarah Partington
Sea Lion Books
Release Date: November 7, 2012
Cover Price: $2.99
Hundreds of years ago a horde of demons were unleashed upon Europe. The Demonic Plague wreaked all sorts of biblical havoc on the people. This era is better known as the Dark Ages in our history books. An army of humans called the Exturminata was raised to take out the demons. Another group, the Mortifera, also formed to fight back the demon horde. However, they were widely considered heretics given their practice of conversing with the dead and other occulty shit. The combined forces of the Exturminata and Mortifera managed to fight and defeat the demons and, decades later, have become complacent.
The blood of demons is highly valuable in these times. It’s indestructible and, when combined with the proper ritual, can be used to summon a demon to do your bidding. Elias Gregor, the leader of the Mortifera sought to mitigate the dangerous demon blood by storing it in the Demon Keep. Kanisus, the leader of the Demonic Plague, sees an opportunity to take advantage of the humans’ complacency and raids the Keep.
Mortifera follows the story of Elias Gregor’s kids: Catherine and Ethan. Catherine has a prophetic dream that her father was slaughtered by a demon and rushes his brother over to the Keep to check on him. They find his body brutalized and pinned to a wall. They also find that all the demon blood is missing””with it, Kanisus can reawaken his demon army and reset the Dark Ages. Catherine and Ethan are the only two members left of the once mighty Mortifera. What can they do to stop the plague?
Writer Stephan Frost exhibits some awesome world-building skills with Mortifera. This world is rich with lore. The demons have a simple but compelling motivation: hey, hell sucks for them, too, and they want out. The rituals and history are all thoroughly planned and explained. While the world is fascinating this is also my main problem with Mortifera #0 and #1: many of these details are clumsily revealed.
Ethan is a slacker who must’ve sleepwalked through most of his life because he knows nothing about his world. Catherine, who kind of plays a Hermione type, is a know-it-all who has to constantly remind Ethan about the details of their rituals and lore. It’s an awkward mechanism to inform readers of these ideas that quickly bogs down an otherwise cool story concept. My other concern was that I counted three typos in the dialogue. This script is begging for a second set of eyes to review it.
The art in Mortifera is simply stunning. Sarah Partington’s work has a fluid, expressive, animation quality. Panels from this comic could easily pass for screenshots of a major motion picture cartoon. I especially appreciated the use of screen tones in some scenes, which is not too common in American comics, but always adds a cool accent to the art.
The dialogue in these first issues of Mortifera is a little clumsy, but it sets the groundwork for an epic story of biblical apocalypse. When the characters are not bore-holing lore into the reader’s head, the story shows some amazing potential. And that’s what I’m grasping on to. I liked the overall plot and have a lot of hope for this series now that the pipework laying is out of the way. If you like stories involving the occult, secret organizations, demons, and medieval violence, then Mortifera is worth a shot.