Heretic #1 is a relaunch title from Off Shoot Comics, an independent publisher founded by Walter Bryant and David Clarke. Originally created in 2011, this year, the series has been illustrated by artist Johnny Flores (El Toxico), with co-founder David Clarke penning the story. The first issue is currently available, and the follow-up issue will be available at WonderCon 2016 next March.
In the first issue titled “A Heretic Among Us,” Clarke (Heroes R Us) introduces the readers to an epic struggle that started with a king thousands of years ago, in which his evil personae gained ultimate control. It took the world’s magic to seal the evil king away, only to have a group of mages betray humanity and break the seal. Clarke creates a complex protagonist in David Christian, who instead of being driven by personal revenge, instead is driven to save humanity. Readers are given a glimpse into Christian’s past, but Clarke holds back on revealing much of the hero’s base of operation. And, breaking with stereotypes, Christian feels remorse at having to “break” the twins, because he understands their faith is founded on lies. Characters on both sides of the fight are introduced, and Clarke efficiently establishes a quick, even pace towards the first of what will probably be many battles in this story.
Flores has illustration duties, utilizing inks and I believe some software graphics to create the visuals of this lengthy comic book which is just shy of 40 pages. He uses a generous amount of thick, black lines as though he used woodcut stamps to create a dense, serious tone to complement the dire position of Christian’s mission to save the world. The majority of the story is in black and white; however Flores does splash some pages with daring colors. For instance, for childhood friend Cherice, he shades in purple for a wisp of her hair as well as for her magical output, and Christian’s goggle lenses are red. The glow he creates around displays of magic and the sound effect text make both pop off the page, since the pages are dominated by a sea of black, grey, and highlights of white. It’s an especially effective technique that accentuates the action unfolding on each page.
“The Black Archers” is the title of issue two, which is scheduled for release next March. It will be interesting to see how the events in issue one impact the story in the follow-up issue. Clarke has a done his job well as a storyteller, laying the story’s foundation while creating in the reader a desire to want to learn what happens next.