So you might have clicked into this story thinking, “Mortifera? What does a graphic novel about demons have to do with WildStar?” Well to be honest, nothing directly. However, the co-creator and writer of this fine graphic novel is none other than Carbine’s own Stephan Frost. You may know Stephan as that guy who voices the DevSpeak videos, or who harasses his fellow co-workers six seconds at a time, but he’s a lot more talented than many fans realize. Mortifera, a story about demon hunters in medieval Europe, is a unique spin on historical events, and a hell of a lot of fun. I wanted to take a moment to highlight Frost’s work so our fellow WildStar fans can partake of the awesomeness that is Mortifera.
Look, I could try to explain the plot and likely do a poor job of selling it, so I’m going to go ahead and let the official website speak for itself.
Mortifera’s story revolves around two sibling demon hunters, and a renegade demon that all seek to slaughter the damned throughout medieval Europe. The Mortifera are an order of knights that use the dark arts against their unholy rivals.
Catherine and her brother Ethan discover the remains of their father, the founder of the Mortifera, who was brutally murdered by the demon Kanisus. Their father once stood vigil over an aggregation of various demon blood vials. Through a summoning ritual, a demon’s blood allowed a possessor to bring forth a demon from the depths of hell. Kanisus stole nearly every vial of demon blood, and had the means to amass an army of the damned.
Except for one demon…
In their desperation, Catherine and Ethan summoned Durin to aide the Mortifera. It now falls on Catherine, Ethan, and Durin to hunt Kanisus and destroy the legion of the unhallowed that now walk the earth.
So yeah, after a brief prologue to introduce the history of the Mortifera and what this world is all about, we kick off with a demon seeking retribution, a dead dad, and a brother/sister combo whose only option is to summon a demon slave to help them save the earth from an army of nasties. As Frost would likely say, it doesn’t get more metal than this. And this is only the first issue in the hardcover collection of four.
The rest of the novel pushes forward the adventure of Catherine, Ethan and Durin as they embark upon their journey to rally support and take down Kanisus. I’ve alluded to the humor that’s present in this book, and the interplay between the trio lends a welcome lightheartedness to the otherwise dark and depressing setting of Mortifera.
This unique blend of serious and fun toes the line well and the humor enhances the story and characters, rather than feeling forced. It really is a strong suit to the writing Frost brings to this book. I grew close to the characters, and I was left at the end of this hardcover wanting more of their story.
Remember how this is a “graphic” novel? Well, you can’t have one of those without…graphics. Stephan’s friend and partner Sarah Partington makes up the visual half of this team and brings these characters and this world to life. If I had to describe the style, I’d say that Mortifera has a bit of a Metalocalypse vibe to it. Given the setting and material of this story, that’s a definite plus. (Keep in mind that I know nothing about art, so I hope this is taken as the compliments I intend them to be!)
Partington’s art really helps communicate the personalities of the characters. The expressions on Ethan’s face in panels helps drive his sarcastic style home. Durin’s straight-laced demeanor comes through without the need for words. You can see the exasperation on his face every time Ethan makes some crack at him. We see Catherine experience a sort of transformation throughout, as she’s forced to step up and take charge of the situation in which she finds herself. On the baddie side of things, every demon encountered throughout the book has his (or her?) own distinct look, which keeps things varied and really shows that there’s all shapes, sizes and types of demons for the band of adventurers to face in their quest.
So Is It Any Good?
Look, I’ll be straight with you here. I’m a geek, but more video games than comics. I can tell you the difference between Stan Lee and Sara Lee, but discussing the merits of Frank Miller’s take on Batman versus some other author is going to find me out of my league. (Wait, Frank Miller did do a Batman run, right?) What I can tell you, however, is that from start to finish, I loved everything about Mortifera. The world and characters that Stephan Frost and Sarah Partington have developed are a fresh spin on a setting towards which I don’t normally gravitate.
Frost says in the book that Mortifera came from “…a mixture of my enthusiasm for medieval/renaissance history and metal.” Mortifera takes place in a real era in our history, and puts a spin on it to bring a fantasy element into play. It’s dark, it’s brutal, but it’s still amazingly fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a fondness for the Dark Ages and stories of the supernatural. Even if you aren’t a fan of these, you owe it to yourself to give this collection of the first four issues a go. It’s a fun ride, and Frost’s trademark wit that we WildStar fans have grown to appreciate is here in spades. I had a blast reading it, and have re-read it a few times since I got it. Every time I find myself smirking in amusement at the writing and admiring the artwork. It’s definitely a great story that caters to a number of tastes.
While Mortifera was made possible by backers on Kickstarter, it’s continued development is likely dependent on the support this first book receives. It’s a well put together hardcover and definitely worth the asking price of $16.79 (as of this writing). For the WildStar fans, you might even see some brutal character art of some backers with pretty familiar names! I won’t spoil it for you, so you’ll have to pick up the book to see for yourself. So if you like a good read, demons and medieval warfare (and honestly, who doesn’t?), get out there and support one of our own.
You can buy Mortifera on Amazon right here.
If everything I’ve said to this point has failed to convince you, check out the motion comic trailer for Mortifera below. If this doesn’t sell you, nothing will.
Note: I know the devs are always listening, but if they’re reading, we’d love to feature the other sides of each and every Carbine staff we’ve come to know and love. Feel free to tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of something that deserves to be seen/read/heard/experienced!Written by: Datix