The mystery behind the zombie plague is finally revealed in PESTILENCE #5 from Aftershock Comics. Author Frank Tieri has been masterfully weaving this tale of death and struggle as the members of Fiat Lux attempt to exfiltrate the Pope from the hordes of the undead. With their numbers slowly dwindling and the armies of the dead gaining intelligence and skill Roderick listens to the final words of the Pope as he reveals the truth of the pox upon them all. The church knew of the undead rising from the ground and covered it up. Knowledge that Satan could raise the dead would mean the Resurrection of Jesus was no longer divine and thus could draw power away from the church. In his final confession of this great sin the Pope points Fiat Lux towards Westminster Abbey in England where a final cure for the plague might lie.
In PESTILENCE #5 Frank Tieri took this title from another zombie fest set in a different era to a whole new level of significance. The implications of the rising of the dead causing a rift in the church due to the fact that Jesus himself rose from the grave is a crazy idea that I never saw coming. That is what makes comic so great, creative writers taking chances and completely reinventing the story right in the middle of it. The build up to this moment has been slow and methodical but everything about this issue runs at full speed. The plot of the church, the fact that the dead are now comprised of as many soldiers as villagers and thus more deadly, the wild escape to England. All together it feels like a reinvention of the series and a admittedly much needed shot in the arm to a solid book that was at risk of becoming another zombie story.
Beautiful pencils from Oleg Okunev highlight the gore and misery of the situation along with some really creative zombie designs. The inclusion of a rather large women whose zombie triplets are still connected to her via their umbilical cords instantly comes to mind as one of the most unique and disturbing zombie creations I have ever seen. If you have not gotten into PESTILENCE yet because you feared it was just another zombie story then fear not because it is so much more than that. It is a beautifully drawn and well written tale of a tight group of soldiers pushed to the edge and betrayed by those they thought were beyond reproach.