Review - The Occultist #1

"Carnivorous undead. Okay book boy. What does the Sword have to say?"

When attending college, having money helps. Being able to wield dark, untold magical powers courtesy of an artifact helps even more. Dark Horse Comics has a new book in The Occultist #1 that offers a rather immature college student coming to terms with immense magical powers.

The first issue is written by Tim Seeley, with art by Mike Norton, colors by Allen Passalaqua and letters by Nate Piekos.

When Rob Bailey isn't attending classes as a college student, he's doubling as the Occultist, wielding the true power of the Sword. Him and Detective Melendez make a great team, investigating tales of the macabre and strange. They're in the midst of one strange case after another, with their work garnering the attention of secret organizations and power hungry dabblers in the dark arts. An evil witch doctor needs the Sword to reject the Occultist. He needs the weapon itself to decide that he is a bad host in the ongoing war against the realm of the dead. The solution lies in a Catholic schoolgirl who dabbles in death for a quick high.

Writing for the first issue is pretty fast-paced, with Seeley wasting no time presenting the Occultist to the reader. The issue opens up with the Occultist and Melendez right in the thick of a bunch of baby wights, transitioning right to Bailey's wonders about a more personal relationship with Melendez. The story feels a little jagged, with the action front-loaded and a much slower pace throughout the remainder of the issue. It effectively sets up the miniseries, offering readers a clear-cut "hero" and "villain."

Norton's art is familiar and great for the story. There's a somewhat nostalgic feel to it, with the characters and scenery depicted with simple and clean lines. Effects surrounding the Occultist in action aren't overwhelming and really hit home the power of the magic he controls. Norton proves he knows how to draw an angry face as one character carries that look throughout the majority of his appearances in the book. There's some blood and gore in the book, but it's not overwhelming and doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment.

The Occultist #1 is pretty strange entry into the miniseries. It trades in magic and sorcery, both of which will likely give way to some really imaginative potential. There are multiple characters introduced, all of whom are being poised to have a rather large role throughout. Bailey is interesting in his coming to terms with his abilities granted by the Sword and will likely have some rather comedic moments along his growth. It's good versus evil at the end of the day though, which might require a little more creativity to make it stand out.

The Occultist #1 is in stores now with interiors below.