Review - Wild Rover Featuring the Sacrifice (One-Shot)

Dark Horse Presents is quickly becoming a great showcase of equally great new works. Michael Avon Oeming has cut his teeth once or twice in the anthology, with his short story debuting a while back. Now, Dark Horse is giving Oeming a bit more leeway in publishing Wild Rover Featuring the Sacrifice (One-Shot).

"Wild Rover" is written and illustrated by Oeming and lettered by Aaron Walker, while "The Sacrifice" is written by Oeming, with art and lettering by Victor Santos.

Like his mother before him, Shane’s an alcoholic. But his family curse goes deeper than that—Shane needs to overcome the black magic at the heart of his addiction by killing a liquor demon if he hopes to reclaim his soul. It's a black magic that has the power to dictate his actions and send him in directions that he shouldn't be going. What follows in the remainder of the story is a battle with personal demons; a theme that's carried over to the second story.

Oeming is clearly tapping into some of his own demons, something he mentioned in an interview last year. Shane's woes are deeply rooted in an addiction to alcohol, something he's a slave to at the behest of his mother. It manifests itself as a dark creature that controls his decision-making. He runs the gamut of self-destructive behaviors, wallowing in defeat and refusing to take steps to better himself. "Wild Rover" is a powerful story of addiction that conveys the depths of despair someone like Shane often falls into. He knowingly drinks and visits less than reputable locations and furthers himself into a downward spiral of self-loathing.

"The Sacrifice" is a bit more medieval than "Wild Rover." It draws on some of the similar metaphors as the first story, with a young warrior braving a sea of blades in an attempt to draw the correct one. The trick is that he finds out doing good doesn't always end well for the do-gooder. Sometimes people are urged to do something that is spun as being for a greater good, yet ends up less than so.

Oeming's art in "Wild Rover" is dark and unnerving. There are sharp angles slicing through the pages and the visual representation of the monster is sufficiently terrifying, helping the reader better understand what Shane is actually going through. The art is as unforgiving as the subject matter, depicting a hateful being who despises both himself and those around him. Santos' art on "The Sacrifice" is a lot different than Oeming's on "Wild Rover," but it fits the narrative very well. It's fantasy oriented and just looks great, thrusting the reader in front of the tree of swords.

There's honestly nothing not to like about Wild Rover Featuring the Sacrifice (One-Shot). Well, you could probably not like the fact that it's a one-shot, but boy, what a one-shot. Oeming really taps into his life for the work and his pain bleeds through. Shane is both a detestable and sympathetic character, slave to his emotions and rash decisions. It's a strong ride through one man's personal battle against his inner demons.

Wild Rover Featuring the Sacrifice (One-Shot) is available now.