Review: ‘The Occultist’ #1

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Mike Richardson, Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s “The Occultist” #1 is a dark sliver of escapist entertainment, that’s crawling with the kind of vision and foresight Dark Horse Comics needs to expand their burgeoning superhero line. While maintaining the perfect balance of horror and occultism, the first installment establishes its coming-of-age narrative, and builds on the Occultist’s origin story, in a way that will surely resonate with readers.

WRITTEN BY: Tim Seeley
ART BY: Mike Norton
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $3.50
RELEASE: October 2, 2013

Having first debuted as a one-shot in 2010, followed by a three-issue miniseries in 2011, and a featured short in Dark Horse Presents last year, “The Occultist” is finally back for another supernatural adventure at Dark Horse Comics. To shed some light on the established universe so far, protagonist Rob Bailey, a mild-mannered college student, comes across an ancient magical book of spells called ‘The Sword against the Dead.’ He is chosen by the book to become the wielder of the Sword, also known as the Occultist; sworn to protect all those living and dead, from the forces of evil.

Seeley writes Rob with as much depth and believability the protagonist needs for him to become an authentically engaging character. But it’s his inescapable destiny and abilities as the wielder of the Sword that will compel readers to care about his tale. While his specific calling as ‘the chosen one’ isn’t remotely relatable, his exposition of humanity — be it through common insecurities, personal relationships, academia, etc. — will allow readers to see themselves in Mike Richardson’s creation.

Seeley and Norton’s five-part miniseries picks up close to where the last book ended, with Rob settling into his role as the Occultist. It also sees the return of ally and foe; Detective Anna Melendez and Technoshaman Aiden Beck, respectfully. The story will explore Beck’s attempts to get the Sword to reject the Occultist, while he’s duplicitously disguised as Rob’s mentor, Mr. James Charles. By the end of the issue, readers are introduced to an intriguing, magic practicing, Catholic schoolgirl, who will play a vital role in the overall narrative.

Mike Norton’s artwork opens the series with a visual bang. Wonderfully energetic illustrations that encompass the horror, supernatural, and action/adventure genres explode within the first eight pages of the book. From fighting hungry demon babies in an orphanage, to murdering birds in a church for a quick high, there are so many artistic gems to revel over; particularly Allen Passalaqua’s greens when dealing with mystical energy and glowing occult symbols. Norton impresses with his clean and crisp line work, as well as his knack for rendering visually expressive faces that emote seamlessly through the panels.

The latest Occultist series is shaping up to be another hit for Dark Horse Comics, and is proving to be a commendable addition to the superhero genre.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – ShadowJayd