Stjepan Šejić's DEATH VIGIL is all about the forces of good trying to protect the world of the living from the forces of evil. It's a totally familiar premise, but Šejić's dialogue and pages are a total joy and the end result is a ridiculously fun issue that'll leave you wanting more. This is a prime example of why immersive visuals and excellent character work is so important.
First and foremost, Šejić does a superb job giving us an emotional link to the characters. They're likable, funny, humanizing, and the work with their various facial expressions adds so much more empathy. It seems like the book is juggling a lot of characters, but the writer/artist is still doing a commendable job giving us a fair look at all of them and what makes them someone we should care about. Honestly, we're just two issues in and I've begun to legitimately care for these fictional beings. They're a lovable bunch and this isn't a series where everyone has the ability to say Whedon-ish banter. They all have funny lines here and there, but it's true to their personalities and they have no problem calling each other out on dialogue that's less than smile-inducing. I can remember at least three times this issue made me laugh out loud, and considering it's so focused on worldbuilding, that's impressive (bonus points for using "noob" in a fitting way).
Šejić's pages are wonderful and oh-so-kind to our eyes. Between the vivid displays of magical abilities, engaging layouts, and impressively rich character work, each and every page has something worth admiring and the artwork does a tremendous job giving this tale a more cinematic feeling. From characters sitting around and chatting to a big battle, it all looks exceptional. I really could go on and on about it, but the praise won't do these pleasing visuals proper justice and you really should experience this visual ride.
Šejić's dialogue is enjoyable the visuals are a consistent treat, but the exposition begins to add up. It's creatively used early on (love how the jumping between time periods was handled), but there's a scene where it takes just a bit of a toll on the pacing. Also, this is the second issue and we still don't have a great handle on what the villains are up to. We know about them, but when it comes to developing them, it's mostly teasing. Both of these points are primarily countered by how well-written, gorgeous and fun the issue is, but it's still worth noting.
DEATH VIGIL, you've captured my attention. The characters are incredibly charming, the dialogue is full of fun and laughter, and the overall premise continues to slowly unfold and reveal what makes it special. It would be nice to get a little more of the villains' side of things, but with so many characters on the Death Vigil, it's understandable that Šejić needs to spend so much time with them while also attempting to teach us more and more about this world. I've never been all that big of a fantasy fan, but DEATH VIGIL is impressively entertaining.