Title: Pestilence: A Story of Satan #2
Script: Frank Tieri
Pencils: Oleg Okunev
Colors: Rob Schwager
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Publication Date: June 2018
Publisher’s Summary: As this newest version of the Black Death begins to rise up and become an even dead-lier crisis than before, Roderick Helms and the surviving members of Fiat Lux race to stop it—but can they do so while being hunted themselves…by the NEW Fiat Lux?
It is difficult to describe Frank Tieri’s new creation, Pestilence: A Story of Satan. The story itself seems simple enough: It is 1353 in medieval France and the Black Plague runs rampant. Satan has come to this world in material form to subject humans to some, as of yet, unrevealed plan. Roderick Helms is a retired hero who is pulled into action to combat Satan and the legions of zombie-like people under his control. At its core, this is a classic good versus evil story. However, the evil here has no equal.
In moments, this comic is truly disturbing. There is a prominent “For Mature Readers Only!” label on the cover and the material inside truly earns it. There are scenes that physically made me wince and I don’t consider myself an amateur when it comes to mature imagery in print or film. From violence, to nudity, to language, to sexual assault, this comic is indeed for mature readers. To the creators’ credit, it never seems that these moments or images are there for sheer shock value; they are there to show what true villainy looks like. This is, after all, the story of Satan, the embodiment of evil itself. So no act of violence or perversion should be shocking and, indeed, they should be disturbing to us mere mortals. This is what I appreciate about this comic. Pestilence: A Story of Satan #2 portrays Satan as an entity with no regard for morals, principles or life itself. A being that sees us as nothing more than toys to be played with and disregarded.
That is not to say that this issue is a simple tome of depravity. The parts of this issue that follow Roderick and his family are touching and a direct contrast to Satan’s disregard for anything decent. Roderick loves his family and it is clear that he will do anything to protect them, even if it means going through Satan and his army of black death zombies one sword stroke at a time. Roderick and Satan provide perfect foils for one another. Both seem to have an inexhaustible will to see each of their opposing tasks to their ultimate conclusion.
The art by Oleg Okunev is stunning at times as he is able to draw a multitude of vastly different scenes and characters. All hit their mark. Whether depicting the transformation of Satan taking a new human host or the idyllic farm life that Roderick’s family has established, there is a level of detail and precision that captures the differing tones perfectly. Even his zombies, creatures that are overused in so many forms of pop culture, have a unique look that is menacing and creepy. I could look at his drawings all day. Needless to say, he now has a new fan in me.
The Bottom Line:
Pestilence: A Story of Satan #2 is an intense and graphic creation that is as beautiful as it is disturbing. In Satan, Frank Tieri and Oleg Okunev have created a literal embodiment of evil and wickedness that is rarely seen in modern comics.