Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artwork: Oleg Okunev, Rob Schwager (colours)
Release Date: 3rd May 2017
Acclaimed Wolverine writer Frank Tieri teams up with rising start artist Oleg Okunev for Pestlience, a brand-new series from Aftershock Comics, the first issue of which goes on sale next week. The story is based around The Fiat Lux – essentially the assassin’s arm of the church, dealing with any situations deemed necessary on behalf of the Vatican – and this first issue introduces us to the motley crew of characters as we get to watch them overthrow a debauched lord.
There’s a flair and confidence to the way the Fiat Lux carry out their business that immediately has us on their side, and the way they manage to overcome this particular adversary in such a ruthlessly efficient fashion is likely to bode well for the situation they’re unknowingly walking headlong into. What situation, I hear you ask? Well, when our heroes meet a strange, silent horseman on the road following their mission, things get a little ‘bitey’, and they soon discover that hell itself has come to the Holy Land in the form of a mindless, flesh-hungry horde.
While this is essentially “medieval zombies”, Tieri does his best to try and keep things feeling fresh here, focusing heavily on the characters themselves in order to try and give the story some meaning as it moves forwards. The religious aspect is also intriguing, although from the “in medias res” opening, it does seem like the story is simply going to end up with some all-out crusader-versus-zombie combat, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I guess.
Okunev’s artwork is vaguely reminiscent of BCP favourite Geoff Shaw (Paybacks, God Country), and his slightly caricaturized style adds lively feel to what could otherwise be a fairly dour and bleak subject matter. Oh, and it also bears mentioning that this series is most definitely aimed at the older reader, with profanity, nudity and bloodletting aplenty throughout the course of these 20 pages, and Okunev tackling the latter two points with a real sense of gusto.
Ultimately then, this is a solid if slightly unambitious opening chapter, but it still managed to do an impressive job of introducing us to our intriguing cast of characters. Characters who, it seems, are about to be plunged into a bit of a medieval zombie apocalypse.
While the story itself isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, the execution is definitely to be applauded, and the enthusiasm with which Tieri and Okunev are attacking the subject matter suggests that this series may very well end up being a hell of a lot more fun than it realistically has any right to be.