What if the Black Plague in the 14th century was really the world’s first zombie apocalypse and was covered up by the Church?
This is the concept behind Aftershock Comics’ new groundbreaking series Pestilence.
In issue #1 of Pestilence: Story of Satan, the year is 1351. It has been two years since the events of the previous six part series Pestilence: A Story of Death. The Holy Grail has been found and is the cure for the “feeders.” Cardinal Kingston Shaw possesses the Grail and has been on a crusade to cure the remaining feeders scattered throughout the world. Former Cardinal Price has now taken leadership as the Pope and will go to any lengths to cover up the fact that the Church knew about the zombie apocalypse and covered it up as a plague spread by rats. He sends his new Fiat Lux assassins to kill Cardinal Shaw. While he is curing the feeders, Shaw is viciously cut down and the Grail is taken.
Meanwhile, now cured of their zombie plague, the former “feeders” gather as the “risen” under the care of Sir Richard, a former victim of the plague himself. It is while comforting the newly cured masses that Sir Richard suddenly becomes ill and throws up on the grounds outside the Cathedral. On the ground where he got sick, a pentagram appears. Sir Richard is overcome with an outside force controlling his actions and picks up a knife, slicing his hand letting loose his blood upon the ground where the pentagram lay. He hears a voice in his head telling him that the previous plague was just the beginning. A demon emerges from the portal where the pentagram is grabbing Sir Richard by the throat and throwing him to the ground. It climbs on him and tells him that he is merely an instrument for the devil and he will do unspeakable things in Satan’s name. The vile creature then rips open Sir Richard’s mouth and literally climbs inside of him, possessing him physically from the inside out. Sir Richard returns to the cathedral and the congregation of newly risen now possessed with a spirit of the devil. He reinfects the congregation to build an army and sweep across the world to finish what the black plague had started.
A couple months later in the south of France Roderick Helm, now branded a traitor of the church, has hidden away the last couple of years with his son Abel. He leads a simple secluded life of fishing, drinking and raising his son. All that changes when he is visited by his former Fiat Lux companions Geoffrey Anteil and James. They bring him news of Shaw’s murder. Roderick takes his two former companions to a pub in the town to discuss privately what has transpired. Helms says that although he loved Shaw like a father, he will not seek revenge for his death. He has found peace these last couple of years in this quiet French town, but unfortunately, something else has found him. Suddenly the three former assassins find themselves surrounded by the army of feeders led by the now possessed Sir Richard with little hope of escape.
The writing and concept for this series is very unique and exciting. The idea of the Black Plague being the world’s first zombie apocalypse and covered up by the church is brilliant. Frank Tieri, who has worked for years on Wolverine, the Punisher and the Darkness to name a few, has created a very complex story filled with conspiracy and action. The first volume was insanely intense and action-packed. The introduction of Satan in this new installment brings the story to a whole new level. This is sure to be an orgy of sex, violence, and gore! The religious and political tones of the story are deep and the main character is equally as complex. Having been the former leader of an elite group of elite assassins belonging to the church, he now finds himself a renegade, hunted down by the same assassins that he once led. Tieri portrays the struggle brilliantly in his writing as well as the struggles of the characters around him.
The artwork on this title is awesome! It’s dark and gritty yet colorful and beautifully done. Oleg Okunev’s work is very detailed and kinetic. The emotion that he conveys through the characters visually is incredible and the action rips and tears off the page. Rob Schwager’s use of color accentuates and amplifies this intense artwork. Swagger has over 25 years of experience in the comic book industry involving heavy hitting companies like DC and Marvel and it shows on his work with this Aftershock title.
This first issue of this second installment in this series of Pestilence stories is setting up to be even more intense than the first six issue volume 1. Although it may be more difficult for newer readers who aren’t familiar with these characters to hit the ground running, it is still a magnificent installment nonetheless.
I highly recommend this title to any fans of horror or action-packed comics that don’t pull punches and are not afraid to take risks to tell an amazing story literally and visually.