When the gods of comic book awards decide who has earned their accolades this year, I really hope Image Comics’ Sacred Creatures makes the cut. But that was bound to happen anyway wouldn’t it? At least that’s what everyone who’s read the debut issue would agree on.
There’s a lot to appreciate here, and Pablo Raimondi and Klaus Janson have visibly exercised a great deal of care with their creator-owned work. There isn’t a whole lot of world-building going on in the debut issue, and perhaps this is one of the story’s strengths. The writers don’t need to take time to introduce us to new landscapes, but instead choose to set the story in New York. Some might argue that it’s a bit lazy and cliché to do so, but compare this debut issue to any other that’s set in a fictional realm and you’ll see for yourself which of the two stories flow better. The writers have a long list of essential characters in this story of an impending war between good and evil, so there isn’t time to introduce a new world without running the risk of losing their readers’ interest.
As a creative, especially a writer, when you get to a certain point in your journey of life, you might have a moment or two of existential turmoil and realise the sad truth that even if an idea seems original to you, that might not necessarily be the case. But this is nothing to be ashamed or disheartened about, and in a beautifully meta way, the writers have touched upon this theme, right under their readers’ noses. But let me talk about something else for a moment. Sacred Creatures might not boast the best comic book name, or even the most original story, but I can guarantee that it’s still something that would strike a chord with readers. Why so? Maybe you’re thinking (after reading, of course) that it’s because the book has the same kinds of flavours that are present across a spectrum of media including American Gods, the Omen, John Constantine, Se7en and even The Black Monday Murders. Sure, elements of those creative works seem to have influenced Sacred Creatures on some level, but an unnamed college professor reveals the answer fairly early on in the story.
I’m talking, of course, about the reference to Joseph Campbell’s matchless tome The Hero With A Thousand Faces and its revelation that all myths are basically one story, about the call to adventure and all the things it entails. And it’s this simple trick that lies at the heart of the appeal of a story like Sacred Creatures. Sure, there might be other things working in the favour of this debut issue, such as the fact that it’s upwards of 60 pages in length. To be frank, the decision to go that route has been one of the key reasons why this book was such a page-turner, because it’s gripping and you’re given a front row seat to a story that unravels at a steady, engrossing pace. The artwork of Raimondi and Chris Chuckry gels with the story, especially the elevated work that’s been put into the cityscapes and architecture. The artist’s character concepts quite obviously drew from real life screen stars, such as Tilda Swinton and Djimon Hounsou, while the protagonist – this story’s reluctant hero Josh, like his girlfriend Julia, is drawn as a normal human being and not like any of the cadre of deities that will be using humans as pawns on their chessboard. There was a fleeting moment wherein Julia seemed a complete pushover, displaying some truly incredible behaviour, but the moment passed, with the writers’ reputation intact.
When Sacred Creatures returns again next month, there’ll be loads of questions to answer, while, inevitably, even more will be raised. But if the writing of issue 2 was anything like it was in the debut, that won’t be a bad thing at all.