Publisher: Dark Horse Books (April 1, 2014)
Softcover, 224 pages
Set during WW II, a group of soldiers is recruited by a dying archangel to defend a monastery who is under attack by a rogue group to steal the light of God which is burning eternally from the remnants of the true cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The tale uses quite a few obscure Christian tales from apocrypha and the Bible. Marcus Longinus, the centurion who caused the final wound of Christ on the cross, makes an appearance. The Grigori, angels who were cast from heaven for sleeping with human women, are the antagonists, while the Nephilim, the off-spring of angels and humans are their foot soldiers. All of this material is gone into detail and this backstory provides much-needed depth and suspense to the supernatural aspects of this story and acts as a cohesive bond to the plot.
The book is well paced and action oriented. You get to know the characters, their hopes and dreams, and ultimately their final fates. This is not a graphic novel which plays favorites. Unlike some writers, who have difficulty letting go of their creations. No so here, there is no pulling punches, no spared bullet. The novel is a suspenseful death fight right up until the very end - even though you kind of know who is going to survive.
A lot of credit has to be placed on the artist for the success of this book, but also with the colorist. As much of the material takes place at night, the colorist gave that effect, yet did not diminish our understanding of what was happening. There was a point when the Nephilim first appear, we see the brigade engage them, and it was difficult to see who survived and who died. The material didn’t make it quite clear on which characters survived, and ones I had thought died turned up again. Should’ve taken a page from Joe Kubert who was a master of differentiating soldiers in combat.
For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst.