I’m back folks, and eager to share a humble review of Sam Humphries’ comic, Sacrifice. (I could say “graphic novel”, but let’s call it what it is and be excited about it!) In addition to being brief, it’s also spoiler-free, so read on, little doggies.
On the surface, Sacrifice is about a young man named Hector and his struggle with epilepsy and depression. Sound like a lot? Well it’s also an overt time-travel story, with themes centered on history, identity, and of course, the cultural destruction of the Aztecs in Mexico.
Hector’s journey in Sacrifice (he’s our protagonist, of course) from present-day Mexico to the time and place of the waning Aztec empire is beautifully told, drawn and colored; Dalton Rose’s art is more vibrant and colorful than expected, and it really was a pleasant surprise. Rose illustrated the players in Sacrifice with as many visual queues to their identity as Humphries put into their character development. Hector and company are layered in every sense, and present themselves well without baring their souls outright. In other words, they are refreshingly real, refreshingly complex.
Hector’s pain and confusion in Sacrifice is like that of so many teens and twenty-somethings on the path to genuine adulthood–only his is magnified by a life of extreme social anxiety and seizures. His journey to the past and his acclamation to a life there is fraught with cultural walls, ostracism and sometimes painful self-discovery. The decisions he makes not only affect his new life in the past, but reach across the entire Aztec empire as they face the loss of their culture and their very lives.
As gorgeous as this story is to read and to soak up with your eyes, it’s real beauty is in its almost autobiographical nature. Sam Humphries, the creator and originally, self-publisher, is epileptic himself. With this story he attributes a sense of mystery and a search for meaning to his own struggle with the disorder. It also addresses his own cultural identity and the ties he feels to his ancestors. His picture of the Aztec people in Sacrifice is not one so violent as many popular culture sources have painted; these people were as human, empathetic and discerning as anyone else, today or yesterday, and Humphries makes that clear.
This book was my introduction to both Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose, and what an introduction it was.
Image from Dark Horse Comics.