Remember being asked, What do you want to be when you grow up?
It’s sort of a strange question to ask a kid who doesn’t even know how to tie his own shoes. I didn’t want to be a fireman, astronaut, or computer software developer. I just wanted to make the world a better place.
I imagine, that’s sort of the journey Clara’s on except for a few key differences in her story and mine.
First, she died.
Second, she’s alive again and a new member of the Death Vigil, a group of warriors holding back an evil intent on taking over the world. To help them, every Death Vigil member receives a weapon-set, a Veilripper, that reflects an aspect of their personalities. But it’s up to the owner to figure out how to use their Veilripper to its maximum potential.
For Clara, it’s a feather that sort of resembles a free-hand 3D pen. She can draw figures in the air which isn’t much use in battle, and for the bulk of the Death Vigil #3, Clara meets with her new combatmates, looking for any advice they can give her.
It isn’t until one of Sam’s markers goes off and they go hunting for necromancers that Clara finds out what her Veilripper can really do.
And it’s pretty amazing.
It’s a game changer, though not in a combat sort of way. When Vigilites take on necromancers, the only way to end someone’s ability to tap into their sigils is to seal them once and for all. And while it keeps them from ever communicating with the dark powers hoping to storm Earth and conquer it, it also leaves the sealed in a hollow and empty state.
They basically become emotionless zombies.
When Clara goes after Lana — a necromancer recruit who immediately regretted the decision — she takes the feather and taps into the troubled woman’s memories. A life of failed romances, guilt, and regret led Lana to join with other necromancers only to discover the extent of her mistake when she saw through their lies.
Restored instead of lobotomized and freed from the controlling effects of her sigil, Lana is left to return to her life, and Clara has found her place in the Death Vigil family. It also means the necromancers know of one more threat to their plans, and the issue ends with two mysterious figures alluding to something a lot bigger and whole lot badder.
Death Vigil #3 does not disappoint and continues an excellent run by writer, artist, and everyman Stjepan Sejic. Clara’s story isn’t the only one being featured, though its the most critical for the plot. Sam’s story takes a backseat to accommodate Clara’s time in the spotlight, though he’s very much present and active in her journey. We also get to see what the other Vigilites are working on with insight on their backstories as well. Also rounding out the cast — Mia and Heinrich show off their true forms after a short appearance in the first issue.
Calling Death Vigil #3 dense is an understatement. Even though the first issue didn’t explain much — it’s obvious there’s a grander scheme at work — things are coming together to bring readers up to speed. Lots of things that happened without much backstory are making more sense, and with a better sense of scope and some details to boot, we feel a bit more acclimated with even greater expectations.
The three issues so far have been packed with action, and they’ve been polished in a way that the story trickles and streams in as much as Stjepan opens up the storytelling faucet. And while we don’t have the answers — it took us until the end of this issue for Clara to figure out what her Veilripper does — we have other characters to keep tabs on. There’s also an emotional thread that connects these characters. The sense of family and military entanglement for these brothers and sisters and arms — it ups the ante any time one of the Vigil members is wounded or dies.
And if it’s true that Death Vigil is a mini-series, I’ll be sad to see it end — as long as the remaining issues continue Stjepan’s streak. The story has been amazing thus far, and the art is no slouch. Characters emote, dance, and have distinct looks. Even the necromancers who’ve been one-and-done have visual personalities that make them memorable without being over-produced. Donna and Maxim Chernov may just be henchmen, but there’s enough attention to detail to make us believe they pose enough of a threat not only to the Vigil but also the world at large.
And that’s one thing I really like about the way Death Vigil is structured. On the one hand, it’s a story of potential. There’s a hierarchy within the Vigil with new recruits at the bottom and Bernie at the top. But even a recruit like Clara can wield an awesome power that can literally rewrite the script the necromancers have been working on. Seemingly ordinary humans with invisible gifts can be tapped to open portals for evil to flow out of, and a young girl reveals herself to be a gigantic primordial capable of munching on other scary monsters.
Death Vigil also deals with family and finding your place in the world, though it isn’t always roses. Broken characters find home and redemption, while heroes die in combat.
The world of Death Vigil is immense, and anyone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” might answer in various ways. But living vicariously through Clara, we can all dream of making the world a better place. And that’s an emotional quality that Stjepan writes into the backdrop of the comic through the personalities he develops and the plot points that work thematically within the ideas that have been presented.
The name Clara comes from the Latin name Clarus, meaning bright and famous. The word clear, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, means “to fill with light.” Stjepan knows how to fill his characters with life, and this series’ most prominent aspect is its undertone of hope for not only the world its characters live in but also the people inside.
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