Sacrifice is a quirky, acid-tinged expedition to pre-Columbian Central America, brimming with action, intrigue, and psychedelic encounters with rock stars and ancient gods.
The time is the sixteenth century; the place is Mesoamerica, under the domination of the Aztec empire at the height of its power. Following a coup led by the followers of the bloodthirsty deity known as Huitzilopochtli, the ancient god Quetzalcoatl has been cast aside, his place in the Aztecs’ story erased from their written history. But a revolt is growing. Led by the deposed Princess Malintzin, whose family and people were slaughtered by the new Aztec regime, a group of rebels seek to overthrow Emperor Itzcoatl and put an end to the cycle of slaughter and human sacrifice.
Into this mess, by way of an epileptic seizure, falls Hector, your average, everyday twenty-first century psychiatric patient. Taken aback by this visitor from parts unknown, the cult of Quetzalcoatl seek to make him a priest of their all-powerful god. All Hector wants to do is go home, not least of all because he knows how the story of the Aztec empire ends – with complete subjugation at the sword-brandishing hands of the Spanish conquistadores.
It’s hard to overstate just how truly well-made a comic Sacrifice is, especially in the last few chapters. While Dalton Rose’s art displays a few signs of awkwardness here and there in the beginning, once the story really gets going the bumps seem to smooth out, the action flowing seamlessly from panel to panel. The character of Hector is fleshed out in a way that many action-oriented comics often neglect, and this not only serves to make him a more well-rounded and relateable character, but also effortlessly ties the exposition of the Aztecs’ backstory in with Hector’s own.
Taken at face value, Sacrifice is a comic that really shouldn’t work; the premise is a little far-fetched, the ending more than a little far out, but when looked at as a whole, something about this book just clicks together in a way few comics (and, in particular, few self-published comics) ever manage. Even at the pinnacle of its psychedelia, including an unexpected appearance by Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, the story seem to make more sense than anyone could reasonably expect.
With Sacrifice, writer Sam Humphries has crafted a surprisingly coherent story, competently (and occasionally brilliantly) brought to full-color life by Dalton Rose and colorist Pete Toms. Dark Horse collects the self-published six-issue miniseries for the first time here, and you should definitely read it.
Sam Humphries (W), Dalton Rose (A) Pete Toms (C), Troy Peteri (L) • Dark Horse Comics, August 21st, 2013, $19.99