Updated: Mar 6
Cartoonist: Richard Kemp
Publisher: Ashcan Comics Pub
WHAT IS IT?
War Priest is a post-apocalyptic thriller that tells a tale as old as time: Good vs. Evil. BUT that’s not all, it centers around a Holy Man as he works to banish the denizens of hell from Earth.
When thinking of what to compare this to, I can’t help but think of The Witcher, likely because the series is still on my mind. That said, it's a guy hacking and slashing monsters; there's a lot of great media out there with that central theme.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Our story revolves around the titular War Priest, known only as "Mathias," who has been dispatched from his ward in order to track down a fellow priest who has gone missing.
Throughout this tale, we get a look at a world long-divorced from the current age. A world filled anew with magic, monsters, and demons.
Mathias faces off against some interesting and unique foes on his journey to rescue his friend. He'll be forced to make some tough choices and put his own faith to the test.
His body may be up for the task, he is a vanquisher of evil after all, but is his inner fortitude prepared for the challenge that awaits him?
Kemp does a great job of narrating the story with Mathias’s monologue. Without being overly wordy, we get a good sense of the state of the world and how the War Priest fits into it.
The art is fairly minimalist, and I think it really works in this story's benefit. This is a world where true horror exists and we get a deep sense of dread from the very beginning of the book through the barren trees' sense of impending doom.
We never truly get a good look at Mathias’s face until about three quarters in, but this helps the character maintain a bit of mystery about him. I feel as if the first time we see his face in this story is when he has to put in actual effort against his foe.
The world-building was fantastic, as Kemp thought of some great ways to show some unique magics. For instance, Mathias faces off against a demon that can control the properties of the plane around him. With such a popular, time-worn genre like fantasy, new and unique magic is a must.
Similarly to the fantasy genre, monsters and demons playing a central role in a story is something that's been done a thousand times before and will often be a key theme in battles of good against evil. That said, Kemp adds some originality with his baddies in this world, and it was definitely appreciated. You can tell he really put some thought into making his creation original.
Going back to the art, It’d be a shame if I didn’t touch on the War Priest's color palette. Kemp uses many somber tones to tell his tale and again, it really helps you feel how doomed the world has become.
One last note on the art, Kemp illustrated a map for us which we find at the start of the book. It shows us the current state of the world, at least what’s left of it. This small, yet powerful feature helps bring the reader into this dark world.
Kemp also did a good job of lettering in this book! The demon language is depicted with special characters that adds to the story’s flavor, and the sound effects truly help bring the action sequences home.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
I will say there are a couple of moments where the flow of the art & story were just a bit confusing to follow along with. Kemp got creative with some of the illustrations, and the angles made things a bit murky at times. I have to admit, it could have just been me missing the meaning, but I had to really focus and try to decipher what the images were telling me and it hurt the flow I was in as a reader.
This may be more on the picky side, but Kemp tends to emphasize A LOT of words in the dialogue. While there’s nothing wrong with emphasizing words, doing it too much can lessen the impact that the writer hopes to convey.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you’re into some cool world-building, demons getting hacked up, and a priest running around with a big-ass sword, then this is the book for you! Despite a couple very minor issues, I truly enjoyed this read and it deserves a look by anyone with a taste for dystopian fantasy.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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