“Plague” is a comic book series I discovered on comiXology on March 22, 2017. What drew me to this series was the plot synopsis and the artwork. After reading the first issue, I knew that this series was going to be something special and memorable. I reviewed all five issues of this series (they can be read HERE), and based on averages, the series as a whole amounts to 4.6 Geek-Heads out of 5. However, I’m going to rate this graphic novel based on the five issues collected in this volume, including the extra content that are additional with this release.
“Plague” is created by Dennis MaGee Fallon, Jason Palmatier, and Zach Brunner. Pencils, inks, and colors by Zach Brunner, lettering by Dave Sharpe, and written by Dennis MaGee Fallon and Jason Palmatier; published by Harry Markos for Markosia Comics. Here is a recap of the plot synopsis for “Plague:”
“When the King of the Fey dies from the Black Plague, his angry young heir, Twylyth Tegg, vows to save his people by any means necessary. That same night, we meet our hero, Robb Aubert, a fearful friar of the Jedburgh Forest who has lost his faith and fellow friars to the dreaded plague. Driven by a mysterious note from the German Bishop of Hildesheim, Friar Robb is about to catch the last boat leaving the English Isles for the mainland when he crosses paths with an injured English Fairy – Danann Atreyu – a fey girl who has just lost her family to the infamous Black Cross, the Warbishop Jean De Moray. But Moray is more than just a bloodthirsty tyrant, he’s a man haunted by the long-ago death of this baby brother and at war with himself over all he’s done in the name of God since. His dreaded Dyrewolves track Danann’s blood-trail to the gates of the abbey where Friar Robb has unwittingly taken her in. It seems Robb is harboring a magical creature – a crime punishable by death.”
What makes “Plague” a fun and exciting series to read are the characters and settings. Below are some character profiles, from the main protagonists, to the ones who have cameo appearances, every character has a key role in their respective points in the story. These images and profiles are taken directly from the back pages of this book (with permission), so the wording will be in quotations and italicized. Without further ado, here are the characters and locations that make “Plague” stand out as an independent comic book series:
Friar Robb Aubert: “Born an orphan and raised by nuns, Robb is a young friar stationed on the Scottish-English Border along the Jedburgh Forest. A life of blind obedience has finally snapped the young friar, and he suffers from a question of faith versus morality. Robb is based on Aubert de Beaufort, a young and pious man who came from a dubious upbringing but eventually becomes Pope Gregory IX, the man who returns the Church to Rome.”
Danann Atreyu: “Based on the legends of an ancient race known as Tuatha Dé Danann that came to Ireland long before the legends of King Arthur. Danann is what folklore historians call High English Fairies. These are not sprites for your garden, but human sized beings that seduce men and rule over the forests of the world.”
Jean De Moray: “Warbishop for the Catholic Church, he spreads the Bubonic Plague on behalf of the Church, bringing the sinful fey creatures ‘mercy’ through death. Based on the legends of the Knights Templar and Jacques de Molay, Moray is the grandson of the actual famed Grand Master. Moray is a decent zealous man, spending most of his life hiding his Templar heritage, since the Catholic Church disbanded the Templars fifty years before Plague.”
Twylyth Tegg: “From Welsh and Gaelic Lore, Tegg is an Aos Sí – a mysterious and magical race that is the historical basis for our modern view of fairies and elves. He is the headstrong prince of magical beings and heir to the throne of the Spirit World. Legends of the Aos Sí are prevalent throughout the English Aisles, where they are said to live underground and just out of human sight. But Tegg and his kin are no quaint fairies, the Aos Sí are famous for violence, revenge and witchcraft.”
Beastmaster Po: “The Catholic Church has a long history of employing men who reveled in violence, mayhem and murder. Po is no different, though his favored tools of torture are the Church’s prized ‘Dyrewolves.’ Based on actual historical records that point to the Vatican’s use of animals to spread terror, the Dyrewolves are a breeding hybrid of Ice Age Dire Wolves and modern European species.”
Crimson Paladins: “Before the famed Swiss Guard, the medieval Church employed various warrior sects and mercenaries to carry out their will at sword- and spear-point. The Crimson Paladins are Moray’s personal guard – medieval special forces wearing armor painted with the magical blood of their fey enemies.”
King Eoten: “King Eoten is a mighty, brutish monster from an age before mankind – when trolls ruled Scandinavia. In translations of the epic Beowulf, the infamous Grendel is referred to as both eoten and troll. In Plague, the name Eoten is used to describe the actual king of the trolls – a creature who has long hidden from men. Historically, trolls are thought to have sprung from a race of giants known as the Jotun – and ancient man who said to be fearful of these Norse counterparts to the Greek titans.”
The Selkies: “Through legends of shape-shifting humans from the sea more recently trace their roots to Irish, Scottish, Faroese, and Icelandic folklore, almost all cultures warn of shape changers from the water. Through Nattiqturniq is Inuit for a large, violent walrus that has become a seal killer, Plague personifies the word as the king of the selkies who is paired with Sedna, the Inuit goddess of the sea. The mother of seals and sea lions, legends say she now resides in Adlivun – an aquatic, Inuit underworld deep in the cold North Sea.”
The Kraken: “Originally appearing in the Icelandic saga of Örvar-Oddr – where it was also known as the dreadful hafgufa – the Kraken has always been seen as the most feared monster in the sea. An excerpt from the late 13th century describes the Kraken: ‘It is the nature of this creature to swallow men and ships, and even whales and everything else within reach. It stays submerged for days, then rears its head above surface and stays that way at least until the change of tide. Now, that sound we just sailed through was the space between its jaws, and its nostrils and lower jaw were those rocks that appeared in the sea… Ogmund Tussock has sent the creature to you by means of his magic to cause the death of you and all your men.’ Today, scientists think the kraken legends sprung from sightings of actual giant squid (Architeuthis dux) in the Northern seas. Regardless, there is hardly a legend that can match the ferocity and fame of the Kraken.”
Hödekin: “With a name that translates to ‘Little Hat,’ he is an infamous kobold (house spirit) of German folklore – where he lived with the Bishops of Hildesheim for centuries and was a helpful sprite. In the actual German legends, Hödekin was a vengeful guardian, known for protecting wives from infidelities, feeding children to their parents in stew pots and kicking the Hildesheim cook into the castle moat.”
Plague Doctors: “Known for their terrifying bird-like masks (the beaks were filled with herbs and perfume), Plague Doctors were hired by towns to treat rich and poor alike. Most often they were not doctors or surgeons, but one of the few ‘public servants’ during the Black Death. As no cure was known for the bubonic plague, these ‘doctors’ used bloodletting, leeches and gave moral advice to the dying. A profession often rife with crooks and con artists, the sole contribution of Plague Doctors was their record keeping of the dead – numbers used to this day.”
Roggenmutter: “The rye mother, she is one form of the little known feldgeister of Germanic folklore. Spirits of the grain and field, they come in many shapes and sizes – from barely wolves to corn children, wheat maidens to oat men. Feared and worshiped by farmers and peasants, legends often said that contact with a feldgeister would cause illness – it is theorized that this is an old-world explanation for hallucinations caused by spores and diseased crops (including the real-life disease of St. Anthony’s Fire, or ergot poisoning from fungus on rye crops).”
Lindwurm: “Historically, it goes by many names; the Old Norse linnormr, Danish Lindorm. But the creature is still the same – a giant, wingless serpent that has terrorized man since Eden. The Germans claim to have found an actual skeleton in Klagenfurt in the 1300’s – where a lindwurm statue stands in the town square to this very day.”
The Wild Hunt: “Every culture in Europe tells of a terrifying cavalcade of spectral huntsmen who travel the woods at night, forever giving chase. Though the term Wild Hunt was popularized by Jacob Grimm in the 1800’s, legends of the ghostly pursuit have existed for thousands of years. The leader of the Wild Hunt has been described as a Norse God, a band of cursed fairies, the biblical Cain, and even the Devil himself.”
Mirrorlands: “Our fey term for the place beyond the land of the living is based on the myths throughout Europe of a hidden realm, collectively known as the ‘Otherworld.’ In Irish myth, Tech Duinn is where the souls of the dead gather. It is the eternally youthful Annwn to the Welsh, and perhaps best known today as the misty Avalon from Arthurian legend.”
Ley Lines: “Stonehenge. The Aboriginal Song Lines. The Nazca Plains. All are said to lie along invisible, geometric lines in the Earth that connect ancient landscapes, natural formations and sacred power. Though never fully proven (or disproven), modern Wiccans, Pagans and Occultists claim that many of the world’s most significant cairns, castles, churches, burial grounds and megaliths are all intertwined with these mysterious power sources. Feng shui, funerary paths and astronomical readings are all variations on the mysterious concept of ley lines.”
The back part of this collected book features extra content, which are nice bonuses to have. First there’s a historical note that makes up the world of “Plague.” Following this is the cover gallery and it’s nice to see the five cover images nice and clean, with no text or logos on the illustrations. Readers will visualize how detailed and colorful these images are, and how these cover images tell a story on their own. There’s also character profiles, which I included above, and these are the characters that bring this story to life. A few more illustrations close out this book, then there are some quotes from reviewers for this series, Anything Geek Culture included! Thank you very much to the creative team and also to Markosia Comics!
Overall, this Collected Edition of “Plague” is a graphic novel I highly recommend to fans of independent comics. Heck, ALL comic book fans should read this series, it’s one of those stories that you start and have to finish reading in one sitting because it’s prodigious! These are characters that readers will care about from beginning to end! I’ll update this review when I find out more about the print release from Drive Thru Comics, and the digital release can be found on comiXology by clicking HERE. I rate the Collected Edition of “Plague” 4.9 out of 5 Geek-Heads, download your copy soon, and for readers who prefer print over digital, stay tuned for details of the print release!
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