Meet Adam. He lives a seemingly ordinary life as a teacher at a Hebrew school in Chicago and comes home at night to the embrace of his loving wife and daughter. However, that isn’t his only job. Born into a long line of protectors called the Order of Solomon, Adam and others are responsible for the security of the seven holy seals. Adam learns that a group called the Nicolaitans is tracking down members of the order, killing them, and taking their seals to use to bring about the end of times and summon the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Titan Comics)
The majority of the story takes place in limbo, the otherworld between heaven and hell. In order to prevent the apocalypse, Adam becomes a helldiver and journeys into the afterlife in search for an addict, a madman, and a deceiver. The three individuals and Adam possess the human weakness which is reflected by each of the hellish Horsemen, which somehow gives them the power to vanquish the demons. So Adam begins his quest to find the human doppelgangers for the apocalyptic riders, but must do so before the forces back on earth gather all the seals and bring about the end of times.
This profoundly dark story was originally supposed to be a video game before it assumed its comic form, however you can probably guess its origins after the first twenty pages. The novel is laden with violence and is broken up into segments which could very well be converted in levels, each featuring their own boss fight. The story line is very formulaic and the writing can be just as cliche featuring lines such as “I never asked for this responsibility!” or “I should have killed you when I had the chance.” If you’re getting this novel, you’re getting it for two reasons: The creative team’s take on Hell and Limbo, and the art. Mendheim, the chief creator, creates a great adaptation of limbo and the types of characters who have committed sins, but possess redeeming qualities to keep them from burning for eternity. The illustrators, Simon Bisley and a horde of others, create some truly mesmerizing pages throughout the book. There are some two-page spreads that must have taken them weeks with the level of detail they provided for the hell scenes.
While the art truly shines on some pages, a good portion of the panels become too dark and gritty to be comprehensible. The limitations of a comic catch up with the illustrators at times as they attempt to cram too much action into limited panel space. I also had a problem with what they were depicting as well: One of the main characters is overtly sexualized and is depicted with skimpy clothes, her thong constantly hanging above her tight leather pants, and large, mostly exposed, breasts (And despite the excessive heat given off from the fires of Hell, her nipples are constantly primed to poke someone’s eye out). I understand the purpose of the character’s appearance, but it was just too over the top and became distracting (in a bad way).
Is It Good?
While we’re handed an intriguing view of the afterlife and some truly epic Hell scenes, the storyline is pretty generic and the writing lackluster. I was rather surprised at how truly dark and graphic some parts were, one in particular that featured rape. If you’re looking for a happy-go lucky novel to pass the time, this isn’t it. However, if you’re looking for video game concept art with a decent story to go along with it, go out and grab it.