“Sacred Creatures” #1 is a beast – we’re talking about a triple-sized behemoth straight from the hearts and minds of Klaus Janson and Pablo Raimondi. So, is this mammoth worth its weight?
Sacred Creatures #1
Written by Pablo Raimondi & Klaus Janson
Illustrated by Pablo Raimondi
Colored by Chris Chuckry
Lettered by Tom Orzechowski
When the supernatural forces maintaining the fragile balance of power in this world start to unravel, Josh Miller, a young college grad and expecting father, is caught in the middle of a vast conspiracy threatening to tear apart the foundations of humanity as we know it. As myth and reality collide, Josh finds himself on the frontline of a battle against an enemy dating back to the beginning of time itself. Comic legends KLAUS JANSON (Daredevil, Dark Knight Returns) and PABLO RAIMONDI (X-Factor, Book of Doom) proudly present SACRED CREATURES, their first-ever creator-owned series, with a monster-sized first issue featuring 66 pages of color art!
Actually, I think the real question here is whether or not we need another hit of the whole there’s-a-world-behind-our-world conspiracy cut with all kinds of supernatural skulduggery. But it’s a winning enough formula that writers keep drawing and keep drawing and keep drawing from its well. Even now, Image has been dusting off the second arc of Hickman and Cokker’s “The Black Monday Murders”. And where that series seems to revel in a labyrinth of eldritch economics and arcane symbology, Klaus Janson and Pablo Raimondi seem to languish in the personal, delving into the relationships and manipulations that bind people together and tear others apart. They’re swerving closer to something like True Blood than True Detective. Regardless of any comparatives, though, they’ve seasoned this work with enough of it’s own flavor to definitely warrant the shelf space.
For now, the whole mystical angle is a little bit downplayed. It seems like something on the fringe that’s starting to creep closer to the heart of “Sacred Creatures” #1 – except for the transformed monstrosities, formerly cats, that chase down Josh and a seeming ally for half the issue, those are pretty overt. But aside from them, the focus seems to be more on illuminating just how powerful and manipulative a family it is that this whole conspiracy revolves around. Raimondi’s introduction to Lucius Hamilton – in fact it’s our gateway to his and Janson’s world as a whole – shows him with his back turned to the reader as he gazes out from his penthouse across a lit city skyline at dusk. We only see his face as a reflection that Raimondi evocatively places so that Lucius lurks spectrally in both the ether and within the confines of the tallest skyscraper in sight. It’s as ominous a power-pose as I can think of and made all the more unsettling and otherworldly by the blood red hues used by Chris Chuckry in painting the sunset.
Narratively, “Sacred Creatures” #1 launches from the starting blocks as Josh, blood stains spotting his hands, clothes and face, staggers out the doors of a posh hotel with a bloody stone dagger in his hand. Janson and Raimondi walk things back from here, intercutting flashbacks of how he came to be holding this weapon with the a torrid race across rooftops as Josh evades the cops and tries to stay ahead of the demon-cats hounding him. As a storytelling device, these cuts back and forth feel a little jarring. But it seems intentional, like Janson and Raimondi are trying to mirror the confusion and disorientation going through Josh’s head. Because, slowly, a pattern emerges, and it comes into focus that each one of these flashbacks shows all the different ways that Lucious’ family has manipulated Josh over the course of the past week to the point where we meet him red-handed. As the issue progresses, Raimondi overlays his page layouts in the present with small tight-cropped panels of Josh’s interactions with these people. Sporadic and bathed in a red palette, they’re like fleeting recollections that one’s mind can’t focus on long enough to make any lasting connections. It’s a wonderful technique that Raimondi lets fly more feverishly as the tension rises.Continued below
His clean, realist style helps to ground “Sacred Creatures” #1 in a place most of us would feel familiar. There’s a tendency to imbue faces with a bit too much melodrama, especially when people are arguing, but those instances are easy to look past considering how impeccably he frames his scenes. And a subtle highlight is just how well he depicts the physical breakdown of Josh over the issue’s length. It’s not just the sunken, gaunt eyes, or the creepy black veins that slowly start reaching out their tendrils across his body. It’s the actual way Josh holds himself, his mannerisms, his gait that transform. And it’s that attention to detail that really stands out.
In the end, “Sacred Creatures” #1 holds up to its monstrous page-count. The added space gives a little extra time and a little extra latitude to flesh out what appears to be a sprawling cast. Being a tale of both mysticism and manipulation, that extra time is well spent. Raimondi’s art is excellent. And while the book doesn’t exactly move at a breakneck pace, there’s enough excitement and intrigue to withstand 60-plus pages. Sounds like Janson and Raimondi are in this one for the long haul – probably a good idea for you to buckle in too.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – You might want to stretch before picking this one up. It’s a thick slab of comic, but well worth it.