Published on December 9th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
The Eighth Seal #1 Review
The Eighth Seal’s closest modern comic book counterpart would probably be Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country; that is if you swapped the Sci-fi alien abduction element for demon possession and the character driven intrigue for bland 2 dimensional narrative. The Eighth Seal has great potential, the initial concept is fascinating but the first issue has trouble engaging with the reader.
The basic story is: Amelia goes to her psychiatrist because she is having violent visions involving a demonic creature inside her coming out to cause chaos, she is given some stronger drugs than she’s already on and she goes home to (SPOILER BIT) the White House where she lives with her husband The President of the USA. Her PR people are all annoyed because they weren’t told about a recent ‘passing out in public’ incident and her personal bodyguard is over protective. Her visions are getting worse and there is a part of her that seems to enjoy the violence inside.
All of this is perfectly fine, for an outline, ready to be filled with emotion and character and depth but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to appear. Amelia has the most character but only because she has a tendency to transform into a hideous beasty, which is easily the most interesting part of this comic. The illustration for the demonic lady/creature is pleasantly grotesque with grey, stretched skin and impossibly jointed limbs but there is a lack of threat about it as it is reduced to visions and mirrored reflections. Obviously this is going to manifest itself like Freddy Kruger into the ‘real’ world and cause havoc but it doesn’t yet have that menacing air of even the lesser known slasher kings of 80’s teen horror movies. She’s not the Candyman.
The other cast members are mostly stiffs in suits playing along to the well-worn grooves of their stereotypical characteristics and when the psychiatrist’s secretary has more oomph than the First Ladies personal body guard then you know something is off. There is a sense that James Tynion IV has an idea where it is going but wasn’t sure how to get there; he had the end of issue one but none of the middle. This leaves a meandering plot that unfortunately isn’t brought to life enough by the Art work. Surprisingly the best scene is the one in the waiting room with the secretary who is vividly brought to life full of scorn and distaste. It’s a shame this isn’t injected into the more central characters. As none of the characters have much in the way of personality it’s hard to engage with the narrative and the President of the USA, who you might hope would have some presence within a panel, is nothing short of a card board cut out. There is depth in there, you just have to dig a little bit too much to get to it.
The script plods along with some of the visuals reminiscent of the superb Alex+Ada series but more by accident than design. By the end you’ll find yourself wishing that the demon would just tear itself out of Amelia just to splatter a little colour to the drab proceedings.
Title: The Eighth Seal
Publisher: A Thrillbent production for IWD Publishing
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jeremy Rock