Ex Occultus: Seal of Solomon (Saint James Press – Russell / Emmett)
1874. Sofia, Bulgaria. Wakefield and Hollander are hired by a mysterious nobleman to track down the fabled Seal of Solomon, a ring of supernatural origin with the abilities to summon and control demons. What first appears to be a simple mission, however, soon becomes something far more deadly.
Ex Occultus is a globetrotting, serialized epic combining elements of Indiana Jones, H. P. Lovecraft and The X-Files as it follows the exploits of adventurer and fortune-hunter Francis Wakefield, the gruff and grizzled Englishman with a tortuous past, and his protégé, a young man only known as Hollander, as they journey through the arcane in search of treasures and fortune, righting wrongs as they go.
In December I read and reviewed issue #1 of Ex Occultus (here) – these guys have really stepped up their game since then.
It’s the end of the 19th century and the team of Wakefield and Hollander are still kicking evil’s butt and taking names. This issue, or in my mind episode – Ex Occultus screams weekly serial (in a good way), sees the boys in search of the Seal of Solomon – which enables the wearer to summon / control demons. The writing continues to be solid and has improved since the first issue. Author Robert James Russell provides a pretty intense background of both characters and plot within this issue, which easily can be a stand alone. The only thing I could nitpick about the writing would be the origin story of the ish’s central object – Solomon’s seal. According to this, Solomon asked for a ring to be created so that the wearer could commune with Heaven, something went “hooey” with the magic and it ended up so that the wearer is able to commune with Hell… this uncommon addition to the mythology that surrounds the treasures of Solomon is the the only detail that seems out of place in this otherwise excellent adventure story.
If the writing of Ex Occultus has improved, then the art has made leaps and bounds. James Emmett’s (art and letters) frames provide a pretty decent canvas for the story to take place and what he presents here is an entire different grace of work than what I saw in the first issue. While there are a few places where his inking overwhelms the reader’s view, it still is pretty solid work.
With the transformation that took place here, I can’t wait to see #3 on this “turn of the century” take on the X-files!
Issue Grade: B