Review: “Sacrifice” Issue #1 (Festival of Dread Special)

Welcome back to the Festival of Dread, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all things dark and demented. Today we’re going to take a look at issue 1 of Sacrifice, a supernatural action horror comic by military veteran Laurant Valles Jr.

Sacrifice is a 32-page book (28-pages of story) written and created by Valles. The first issue, titled “Sin”, is the first chapter of six. In the first issue, Valles is accompanied by Uj Chen as artist, Ichsan Ansori on colors and Lucas Gattoni on lettering. With a quick search on the creative team, they all appear relatively new to the comic scene except for Gattoni, who states on his Cargo Collective website that he has published work with Dark Horse and IDW. 

Valles describes Sacrifice as “Hellboy meets Evil Dead. A comic with demon fighting, monsters transforming, and splashes of comedy.” The story starts with what is about to be the ritualistic sacrifice of a newborn infant to help bring Lucifer to the present world – being the catalyst allowing demons to rule the world. A troubling scene, to be sure. Not knowing anything about the story, I immediately felt as though this book was not for me. I didn’t want to know or see what happened next. In fact, I nearly put it down without the desire to pick it up again. Instead, I glanced ahead to see what would be coming. Thankfully, angels swoop in just in time to interrupt and battle their evil counterparts.

Here is where adventure of the newborn child, Damian Blackwell, begins. With only part of the ritual having taken place, Blackwell’s soul is still bonded with Lucifer, and upon his inevitable death, the ritual will be complete and Lucifer will return to earth to lead his demonic hordes.

I found the story to be entertaining, despite the rough beginning. The first issue focuses more on Mei, a naïve college student, who seemingly becomes Blackwell’s “partner”. She was chosen by the Grimoire, the ‘most powerful spell book in the four realms’. Unfortunately, we know very little about Mei’s background or why she was chosen, but because she was, the demons target her. Hopefully, more will be revealed in future chapters. Now a young adult, Damian Blackwell meets Mei when he comes to her rescue after the demons kidnap her, only to get into more confrontations with them before issue one ends. 

There was a detail of the story that seemed unbelievable to me. The angels rescued newborn Damian from being sacrificed, but when discussing what to do with him, they ultimately decided he should be adopted so he could live a “normal” life. Blackwell is his natural father’s last name, and if they wanted him protected and hidden, I would think that they would conceal his true identity and not keep his given name. Why not name him “David Brown” instead?

This beginning chapter raises questions that I am interested in seeing where they go in future installments. Blackwell WILL ultimately die; he is human, after all. While he can grow wings and horns like a demon, he appears to be on the side of good, but how good? What kind of adventures and challenges will he face? Will he be the world’s savior, or will he be the cause of its downfall? And how does Mei fit into it?

The illustrations and colors of the book are certainly good. They work well together in creating dynamic panels, action shots, and the colors especially help to create depth in the panels and shine/shadows to help objects to appear three dimensional. There are only a handful of panels in which made me pause, wondering if the details on the faces were enough to portray the emotions that were needed or if the shadows were correct. Unfortunately, with the action that was going on, I did need to study panels to fully take in what was happening. Personally, this took me away from the pacing of the book, but it may appeal to those that like a lot of action.

Sacrifice issue 1 had a lot of action and a few bits of humor sprinkled in, which made it a fun read. It is a good introduction to what I think will be a fun, six-issue ride. The book had a campaign on Kickstarter that ended the middle of June, but you can currently obtain a digital copy off from gumroad ($3 asking price). Based on an interview with RJ from Critical Blast, Valles is in the process of completing chapter 2, and it sounds like it will be launching as a crowdfunding campaign on October 18th (yes – just a few days from now). I would recommend checking out the inexpensive digital version of issue 1 or grab a physical copy during the campaign for chapter 2 if it is available.

*Disclosure: a digital version of Sacrifice issue 1 was provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.

Thanks for reading!

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