ADVANCE REVIEW! Sacrifice #1 will go on sale Wednesday, December 14, 2011.
Comics has a sweet spot. It’s that moment when the writing and the art come together in such a way that you are embraced by the reality of the book. You want to roll around in it like the comic loving dog that you are. It’s a purely emotional reaction, one that’s almost impossible to explain, but it’s the sign of a great comic. The world feels fully realized, and you know just enough to enjoy it, but not enough to know what’s going to happen next.
This all leads me to Sacrifice the new book by Sam “Our Love is Real” Humphries. Before I even get into the details of the comic, I should point out what Humpries has managed to do this past year. Our Love is Real was something of a sensation, getting multiple, self-published printings and eventually one from Image as well. The first editions burned their way through eBay and Humpries became the kind of overnight sensation that was years in the making.
All of this raised the profile for Sacrifice yet another self-published comic, this time with artist Dalton Rose. But a raised profile also means raised expectations, so could Sacrifice match up to Our Love is Real?
Hells to the yeah, it does.
This is a completely different story, which is probably a good thing. Instead of going to the future, Sacrifice takes us to the past, specifically 762 years into the past, when the Aztec empire was in its prime. Somehow, modern-day young man Hector has been sent back in time… or it’s all in his head. Or it could be both. Honestly, I don’t have a definitive answer on that, which I’m thrilled by. I don’t want to know now, if ever. Sacrifice reminds me of Joe the Barbarian in this way, which is a pretty high compliment to give.
The “person from the present mysteriously thrown into the past and surrounded by blood thirty Aztecs” idea is great, and would probably be enough on its own. But it’s not what makes this book. Besides the issue of Hector’s sanity, there’s a division in the Aztec empire, a religious division. It’s a really interesting conflict, one that’s exacerbated by Hector’s arrival. It’s also entirely possible that one of the gods pulled Hector from the present.
If we’re going to be honest about it, the biggest problem with the vast majority of self-published comics is the art. The belief, of course, is that they’re self-published for a reason; no publishing company will publish them. But that’s obviously not the case with Humprhies’ work, and it’s definitely not the case with Dalton Rose’s art.
I won’t say that everyone will love Rose’s artwork, because it can sometime be rough around the edges, more of what you might expect from a black and white, slice of life indie book than a comic with this much blood. It would be a reasonable viewpoint, at least until Hector is transported back in time. Rose really cuts lose, both in the splash pages of Hector’s psychedelic journey, and in the kinetic energy of the Aztec empire. And, yes, he has to draw a lot of blood, too. I’m going to keep an eye on Rose; I think his name will be popping up a lot in the future.
As I said at the beginning of this review, Sacrifice is one of those unique comics that hits the sweet spot of the medium. It manages to be real and fantastic, thought provoking and visceral. I can’t wait to see if we get more of the same over the remainder of this series. I have a feeling we will.
Sacrifice is self-published and self-distributed; your local comic shop can’t get it from Diamond. If you’re interested in tracking a copy down, you can find out how at Sam Humphries’ website — it’s worth the extra effort.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I’m Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter at @kylegarret.