Among many of the fantastic recent releases from Dark Horse Comics is the second volume of The Occultist!
I really enjoyed the illustrations on each chapter, and the chapter page itself had a very nicely textured drawing of a cthulu-kraken creature. Each chapter page has a good illustration that fits the chapter you will soon read. The art at its core and totality is the standard superhero artwork you would see of today, which isn’t meant to be demeaning, but informative.
The protagonist in the story reminded me of a Peter Parker type young man who was thrown into a scenario he wasn’t ready for – but is willing and forced to grow into. Imagine if Peter Parker became Doctor Strange in a Spawn-based universe. He is a protector for the balance of the realms of life and death, a neutral judge who has a power that has sentience and can turn against him if he strays from the path. In a similar thought, any D&D paladin could remember such a plight with maintaining their alignment.
Complete with a mentor that visually looks like Stan Lee, I feel like the story is more functionally basic than obscene and unique – the way Spawn was when it was released. The entirety of the comic does feel a bit more superhero than I was expecting; my initial thought was to see visually dark arcane rituals in back rooms, the kind of power you have to stand back for, with a demonic foreign tongue and dark jagged runes, what I saw was basic to comics pose of power accompanied by intensity lines, green magic, and dialogue.
I really enjoyed the concept of the spiritual junkies that I read about and liked that the penciler drew in cryptic runes as the hero cast his magic. However, I would like to see that pushed farther beyond what is currently being done visually. I want to see reality bending magic and runic glyphs penetrate what I perceive to be the landscape – something really super visual to really pronounce the power of the occultist; something instead of the standard green blast drawing that is typical to superhero comics.
The sidekick character, who is a female investigator, is not visually exploited (none of the female cast are). Her role isn’t defenseless per se, but it could be stronger, because it is very typical. She’s not stupid, dumb, or really helpless, but she’s a cop in a supernatural fight. Disregarding one line that made me double-take as to how dumb it read (it made me feel like I was being trolled for a second) her dialogue is pretty genuine.
It could be better, braver, and stronger but I am glad it is not offensive. It is often hard to write a good female as a male most of the times and vice versa so all things aside I was happy. Though I think she and another female are competitive love interests which just made me think of Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane, hoping it can be at least intelligent and not vulnerable. This grouping of issues didn’t outright put it in stone and i’d like to give it that chance, because until you start seeing Tenchi Muyo happen, change can occur. (But love interests are mentioned and spurned briefly.)
Interested in the supernatural and superheroes? Buy The Occultist Vol. 2 now at DarkHorse.com.
Raul is a contributor to The Geek Initiative as well as Mystic Realms and is a creative enthusiast and a father.