ADVANCE REVIEW! Sacrifice #2 will come out on Wednesday, January 11, 2011.
For those of you who may have been a bit confused about exactly what was going on in the first issue of Sacrifice, I have good news: Sacrifice #2 is pretty straightforward. It's more or less a linear story (with minor exceptions) and it's devoid of the psychedelic elements we got in the first issue. While I like those things, the fact that they're missing doesn't take away from this issue. In fact, it's smart writing on Humphries part to ground the story in its second installment after the barrage of ideas in the first.
Aside from two flashbacks (which are actually flash forwards, but that's neither here nor there), this is the story of the burgeoning holy war within the Aztec empire. On one side stand the supporters of Quetzalcoatl, the original giver of life. On the other side, we have those who support Huitzilopochtli, the god who has been retroactively added to Aztec mythology. Modern day Hector's appearance 500 years in the past as seen as a sign, but a sign of what? Which god brought Hector to the Aztecs?
One small conceit: it's pretty easy to get confused on who is who, but only because the characters all have Aztec names. If I were to replace Itzcoatl with Bob and Tlahuicole with Joe, and it would all be clear as day. Humphries would have had to dumb it down to remove any possibility of confusion, and then it would have rang false, so I'm fine with occasionally having to look back to see who someone is.
Throwing a monkey wrench into the story is Malintzin, who is trying to destroy the Aztec empire and who is destined to work with the Spanish to achieve her goal. The interesting thing about Malin, as she's called, is that on the surface she appears to be someone who deserves our support. The Aztec empire is made up of blood thirsty warriors who sacrifice their prisoners to honor their god. I think we could get behind someone who would like to put a stop to them. And yet, as with everything in this book, nothing is as it seems.
The level of detail in Sacrifice is kind of ridiculous. I would imagine that Humphries and Rose generally spend their days and nights buried under books about the Aztec empire. I have learned more about the Aztecs than I ever knew before. And I completely believe everything they're telling me. At this point, I wouldn't be shocked if Hector actually exists in a history book somewhere.
Rose's artwork continues to win me over. It's not slick, it's not showy, it's just great. There's a rough, grainy quality to his figures and his action sequences that gives each panel wonderful depth. He's also made me really appreciate what Xilo, priest of the old god, is going through. Of all the characters, Xilo actually might be the most sympathetic, if only because I feel like his situation is real. I'm not so sure about Hector's just yet.
One of the things that has intrigued me the most about this series is Hector's relationship with his father. We've only seen it in bits and pieces, but it's clear that Hector's father was the driving force in his early childhood. All of the things that Hector knows about the Aztecs come from his father. He's played a major role in the series so far, yet we've only seen him briefly. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
If what I've read is true, Sacrifice is doing as well (if not better) than Our Love is Real, and that's great news. This is a truly unique comic and deserves all the attention it can get.
To score a copy of Sacrifice, check out Sam Humphries' website for more info.
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.