More people should be paying attention to Aftershock Comics. If you have not jumped on their bandwagon yet then a good place to start is with PESTILENCE #1 written by Frank Tieri with art by Oleg Okunev. The year is 1347 and we are following the Fiat Lux, a group of church sanctioned assassins who have been dispatched to bring a rogue crusader and his army to heel. Upon their departure they will encounter a man like they have never seen before, a sickly man who apparently cannot be killed. This story will lead into the truth behind the Black Plague and reveal that what we think we know of its history might be just the surface of a far more sinister event.
Frank Tieri uses the first issue masterfully to establish character and tone and then tease the larger plot at hand. Each member of the Fiat Lux gets a small time to shine with context given to each one via their leaders internal monologue. The opening action scene revels in its gore and debauchery. It is just to the point of being over the top without going too far and that kind of exaggerated reality is the best for a fictional tale that edges on true history. Tieri makes everything just a bit more outlandish than you would expect and thus turns a tale of historical knights into a comic that feels like it has the tone from Conan the Barbarian, and that’s a good thing!
The art is really something else. The name Oleg Okunev is new to me but it is one to keep an eye on. Great character designs, epic action scenes, gore, and vast landscapes are all expertly rendered and pleasing to the eye. PESTILENCE #1 is going to be on low order at most shops so make sure you grab it if you have not yet. This is going to be a comic that cuts a bloody path through an almost real history and that sounds like a lot of fun to me.