"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Book One - Helldiver" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Heavy Metal
Written by Michael Mendheim, Mike Kennedy, and Sean Jaffee
Illustrated by Simon Bisley
2012, 72 Pages
Trade Paperback published on June 13th, 2012
Another day, another comic about the end of the world. It's a popular topic lately, which isn't all that surprising considering we're living on borrowed time if you believe the Mayans. There are few people that can tell a good apocalypse story the way the talent at Heavy Metal can. They've launched their epic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse comic with the first chapter entitled Helldiver.
You know the basics behind the Horsemen. Death, Pestilance, War, and Famine will ride forth upon the world when the seven seals holding them at bay are broken. In the world of Helldiver, these seals are protected by an ancient order from the Vatican. Each one is protected by a soldier. The story focuses on Adam Cahill, a descendant of the bloodline of Solomon, who is called into action to help protect the seals at all costs from the Nicolaitans. And costs there are. Saving mankind is not something that you can just do. It takes sacrifice and even though Cahill has dedicated his life to the cause, that's still not enough.
Helldiver is frenetically paced. Although it's a short comic, you will not have a chance to breath. Creator Michael Mendheim keeps the book moving along with co-writers Mike Kennedy and Sean Jaffee. The plot may sound confusing at first, but it's far from it. The ideas are presented in a clear fashion and despite the speed of the story, you won't get left behind.
Cahill is an interesting character to begin with. He has a touching homelife with a wife and daughter that he balances with traveling around the world to brutally murder the forces of evil. It's clear that there's more to him and the order that he serves, but it's him specifically that has been called upon to save the world. Even though he has the look of a buff Hot Topic employee, I have faith that he'll be able to do the deed.
Click images to enlarge.
Of course, a great story could be lost in mediocre art, but that is far from the case here. Legendary artist Simon Bisley returns to Heavy Metal with Helldiver and he delivers in spades. Bisley's work is hardcore. This is the kind of stuff that Michael Bay looks to for inspiration. The battles are bloody. The explosions are huge. The bad guys are vile. A great example of this last bit is Belarios, the man behind the assault on the seven seals. He sits in a huge building in Dubai pulling strings (although it's clear that someone is pulling his too). His motives are unclear at first, but Bisley draws his hair with a slight cowlick on either side. This is a very subtle move, but it makes him look like a devil which fits perfectly.
Helldiver is really just the tip of the iceberg for the overall Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse story. It's clear that Mendheim is only just getting started and I can't wait to see where he goes next. The tale so far is centered on sacrifice and just how far one man will go to protect not only his loved ones but the entire world. Yes, there are other members of this order, but Cahill is the one that has been called upon to stand up against the forces of darkness. Although he starts out alone, he's just starting to get the band back together.