This latest offer from Image comics walks a tricky tightrope at times. With a series based in the Crusades of 1200 A.D. the reader is expected to have a working knowledge of their history, which can make parts of the story dense and unfriendly to new readers. While I found it entertaining to be transported to the French countryside during the time of the Crusades, I can’t say that the same would be true for newer or younger readers. This mires down what would be a very intriguing book. It’s hard to transport yourself fully into the plot when you’re trying to think back to your notes from history class.
I’ll try to give you a simple version of the plot here, but for the full effect you’ll need to pick up the book.
Issue two follows a small group of crusaders who have saved a young woman, ride into a makeshift fort with trouble nipping at their heels. (The exact location was not explained, this may have been a fortified village)The crusaders only have enough time to relay the bare facts before a group of monks arrive and claim that the girl who is in their party is responsible for witchcraft, who’s very existence has spurred daemons to arise and attack people in the area. (Not true, readers of issue one know that the beings are aliens from a crashed vessel) The lead holy man goes about the business of condemning the young woman and sentences her to be burned at the stake. While the sun sets the villagers have gathered to watch the young woman burn. The moment that the monk sets fire to the timber beneath her feet, the aliens/demons storm the walls of the fort and a fight for survival ensues. The crusaders gather the innocent and tuck them away from the attack at heavy cost to their own forces. We leave the group surrounded by aliens and wondering who else might not make it through the night.
So that is the abridged version of the issue, to actually read the comic is a much different experience, one that can be frustrating given the time period, the historical locations and drama, and the lack of explanation to help readers gain their footing. (I didn’t know the beasts that attacked at the end of the issue were aliens until I went to look up facts from issue one, this to me seems to be a major mistake to not address this very important fact to the reader)
Final Thoughts: I will praise the creative team for stepping outside the traditional box and giving comic fans something new, the art was great and the characterization was strong. However, the negatives of the book pull it back down when it comes to my final grade. I would have liked to see this title made more reader friendly.
Final Score: 3 stars
Story/Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Art: Matt Smith