Pestilence: A Story of Satan #4 from Aftershock Comics is raising hell in book stores this week. This fourth installment of the groundbreaking series is titled “Satan Triumphs,” and boy does he ever.
Last issue saw the return of Isabel, who was thought to have been dead after the events of A Story of Death. As it turns out, the young heroine was saved by the light of the Holy Grail that Roderick unleashed just before she turned undead. Isabel awoke in the care of Cardinal Shaw who took her in and brought her to what was left of the Knights Templar. The sacred order of knights had defeated Satan once before in the year 1307. Then the Dark Lord had taken over King Philip IV of France but was defeated by the Templars after much of their numbers had been rounded up and executed. It is they who sent Isabel to aid Roderick and his renegade Fiat Lux and avenge the murder of Cardinal Shaw. It is believed that by killing the Pope, who is now possessed by Satan himself, the undead plague will be lifted and mankind will be saved once again. It seems however that Satan has other plans and suddenly possesses their once-undead companion, James. The vile demon rips through James’s body, taunting them and revealing the true nature of the undead plague. James fights for control and in a fleeting moment when he suppresses the influence of the devil, he takes up an axe and drives it into his own chest, falling dead in Roderick’s arms.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse, a new band of Fiat Lux, sent by Satan disguised as the Pope, ambush the group, severely wounding Roderick and the others. In the melee one of them steals away with Roderick Helms’s son Abel. The wounded and defeated heroes scramble to recover from their injuries and pursue their attackers. As Roderick yells out that they have taken his son, Satan once again takes control of James’s corpse and exclaims that the child is now his son.
The story on this issue is pivotal. Not only do we see the return of Isabel, but we also learn what the real nature of the undead plague is and what Satan’s sinister plan truly has in store for mankind. As always, Frank Tieri does a masterful job of weaving his diabolical tale of demons and squalor. The writing in this particular issue is very straightforward and simple, yet paves the way for an even more complex story to come. This issue proves that Satan is a formidable adversary, and leaves the reader wondering if there is truly any hope for Roderick and his Fiat Lux to prevail.
Oleg Okunev does a great job with the artwork on this issue. There are some particularly grotesque moments such as when Satan takes control of James, and a demon literally claws its way through James’s skull as he is speaking to them. The action in the battle between the renegade Fiat Lux and this new faction sent by the Demonic Pope is very exciting. At one point, however, it is a little hard to distinguish who is fighting who, but it is in this chaos that the reader is made to feel the same disorientation that Roderick and his companions must feel.
Is it good?
This is a good issue overall with a fair amount of revelations as well as the return of a strong and dynamic character to the story. While it may have one or two things about it that keep it from being on par with the rest of the series, it is definitely an important issue as far as the story goes.