The second instalment of this four-part series sees Abnett and Culbard tip their hand a little further, giving us a fraction more insight into the unspeakable horrors of the first issue. The story is now firmly rooted around Galvin, struggling in his new leadership role as he and his band of mercenaries find themselves barricaded inside the mysterious monastery, trying their best to figure out exactly what’s happening to them.
The issue opens with Galvin gripped by fear and confusion, convinced that he is living through the “end time” and finding his faith in religion tested by the horrors he has just witnessed. Once again, Abnett’s characterisation is spot-on here, providing us with a protagonist who has realistic reactions and motivations and who draws us in quickly without resorting to clichéd caricature. Credit must also be paid to his firm grasp on the language of the time, particularly in Galvin’s beautifully phrased inner monologue which propels the story forwards.
Once again, artist Culbard knocks it out of the park with his basic yet expressive style, seeming equally as comfortable during Galvin’s quiet moments of personal crisis as he is with the full-scale battle that erupts later in the issue. He also gets a chance to cut loose with the monster design here, and overcomes my only real niggle about the first issue by providing some brilliantly deformed ‘demons’.
The final pages of the issue provide the hook that will spur this story forwards, giving a chilling explanation for the monks’ vow of silence, and dangling the faint promise of answers in front of us. If the first issue was them merely getting up to speed, then this issue sees Abnett and Culbard in full sprint, providing a brilliantly inventive tale featuring some truly compelling characters, all wrapped up in a mystery that simply demands to be solved. Two masters at the top of their game, and a title I honestly can’t recommend highly enough.
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