By most outward appearances, Requiem isn’t a comic you should give a damn about.
First of all, Requiem is serialized in North America by the Heavy Metal comics magazine. Remember Heavy Metal? With a history stretching back to 1977, it originally reprinted a lot of work from comics titans like Jean Giraud and Philippe Druillet, though more recently they’ve focused on more contemporary, English-language fair of middling quality, not garnering much wide or critical attention in the process.
Secondly, Requiem has vampires in it. Vampires! Vampires glitter in the sunlight and fall in love with high school girls who have yet to discover themselves, right? What could be less cool?
So I’ll openly admit it, the odds are against this title. The only way Requiem would seem more passé is if it made The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air references. That said, Requiem defies the odds and kicks ass. You should know about it.
This comic isn’t exactly about vampires, it’s about Hell. When bad people die this is where they go, and what sort of decaying creature they’re reincarnated into is determined by a twisted combination of the wheel of karma and Universal Monsters.
Don’t get me wrong, Hell is a very uniquely realized place in this comic, and that’s because it’s written by Pat Mills, the man who not only created 2000 AD, but has Slaine and Marshal Law under his belt. Saying he’s a competent writer who creates rich worlds would be a massive understatement. But if you really want to talk about richness, take a look at Olivier Ledroit’s artwork!
It’s hard to communicate just how gorgeous this stuff is without showing you the 11″ x 9″ book in person. Rarely do we see comics that are at once insanely imaginative, painstakingly drawn, and brilliantly painted. The way each page is thematically and visually linked makes the reading experience ridiculously immersive. The pages aren’t storyboards, they’re not splash pages, and they’re not grids of panels. They’re story art to be imbibed by the reader. I’ve struggled with the notion of how much to show in this review, but I’ve decided to go with the relatively generic stuff made readily available on theevilsnest.com. The best spreads would be more spoilerish than I’d prefer.
The plot follows Heinrich Augsburg, a disillusioned and recently killed Nazi soldier looking for his deceased Jewish girlfriend in the afterlife. Augsburg, reincarnated as a vampire, quickly finds himself in the middle of Hell’s never-ending class war, fighting satanic nun pirates, armored lycanthropes, and an anthrax-riddled giant from the future.
I’ve never read a 144-page comic this leisurely before. This shit is METAL. It posesses the gothic, bombastic insanity I always expected from Tsutomu Nihei‘s manga (Abara, Biomega, Blame!), but never actually got.
Requiem is an ongoing French comic published in annual 48-page chapters. Ten chapters are out so far. However, it’s published differently in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Either version can easily be purchased from Amazon.