Ex Occultus: Badge of Langavat one-shot (Saint James – Russell / Young / Lanz)
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
1864, Scotland – Francis Wakefield and fellow occult hunter Fergus Duff find themselves investigating the disappearance of children from nearby villages. Their hunt leads them to a forgotten castle belonging to a family of undead, cursed werewolves who have nefarious plans for the taken.
This is the second comic I have read from Saint James and the first non-children’s book. The Ex Occultus plot (comic and web comic) follows a pair of ghost hunters / shadow chasers in a series of unrelated one-shot adventures as they try to get rid of all the supernatural baddies in the world. The Badge of Langavat deals with them raiding a werewolf nest and trying to save the children of a local village.
I finished this read with the same feel I did with Indego Blue, that there is a whole lot of potential here but that the finished product wasn’t quite “done”. The story itself (which read like a role playing adventure in that good way) had quite a few specific details to it, which let me knew that both the author did care about the story and that he had put some thought into the infrastructure of the plot. But while there was atmosphere and direction, the story lacked the development both in the background of the plot and in characters. Badge would have been well served to have one of those one page “this is what has come before” summaries. Perhaps the history and relationship between the two main characters is explained in the web comic, but it wasn’t here and the reader more or less walks in cold into what I assume to be a very complex relationship between Wakefield and Duff.
The art was a roller coaster ride, overall with a positive feel to it but still very lopsided. Some pages and frames were outstanding and as stand alones were borderline glorious, like the transformation of the werewolves. Others looked like they were drawn under a time constraint and were developed in a very sloppy and purposeless design.
With a little bit more refining I think Ex Occultus could tap the potential it has.
Issue Grade: C