Share & Connect
When I was offered the chance to review the first issue of The Occultist, I was excited. I’m a huge fan of contemporary fantasy, and the series description sounded intriguing. I was expecting something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but alas my hopes were dashed.
The hero of the series is Rob Bailey, a college student who has received mystical powers from an arcane artifact called “The Sword.” Now he must learn to use his new-found powers while avoiding death at the hands of a bunch of “hit mages.” Apparently, this series is based on a one-shot comic that appeared last year.
I haven’t read it, but the writers do a decent job of getting the newbie reader up to speed on what’s come before. Apparently, Rob’s friend/mentor Jacob Elder died in mysterious circumstances, and Rob feels some regret that he was not able to save him. The police get involved, and they suspect that Rob might be hiding information, but he’s able to divert their attention by means of his magical mojo.
But when the buxom lead detective goes hunting for clues, she inadvertently stumbles onto something much more sinister, setting the stage for an epic battle between Rob and a bunch of supernatural baddies. Throughout the issue, it’s clear that writers Mike Richardson and Tim Seeley are determined to keep things as mysterious as possible.
The reader doesn’t learn much about Rob’s power. Rob’s hand is green, and when he gets frustrated, his eyes glow green as well. He’s able to manipulate the mind of the detective who comes to visit him and survive a leap from the roof of his dorm, but it’s clear that Rob himself is as much in the dark as we are as to the exact nature of his “gift.”
Unfortunately, despite the promising setup, the first issue ends up falling flat. The writers are so busy trying to be mysterious that they forget to make the reader care about the main character. Rob isn’t particularly interesting, and his power isn’t well established enough to draw the reader in.
We know he’s in some kind of danger, but it’s all kind of vague at this point. The issue ends with the promise of a big battle, but the whole thing is set up at the last minute, making it hard to get terribly excited about it. Art-wise, The Occultist is quite well done, though artist Victor Drujiniu seems to be a bit unsure of how to portray Rob, and his appearance varies from page to page.
Drujiniu is clearly targeting a male audience, as almost every woman in the issue has mountainous breasts and isn’t shy about showing them off. The Occultist has an interesting premise, but fails in the execution. There are some tantalizing hints of interesting things to come, but right now the story is just too inchoate to be interesting.
OVERALL GRADE: C