After his last self-published hit, “Our Love is Real,” went through multiple printings and eventually landed at Image, there’s been a bit of buzz surrounding the first issue of Sam Humphries’ follow-up, a six-issue mini-series, “Sacrifice.” Self-published like “Our Love is Real,” “Sacrifice” is quite different in content, not focusing on the sexually liberated future of “Our Love is Real” and, instead, telling the beginning of an odd tale about a teen suffering from epileptic seizures who may be transported back in time to the Aztecs before the Spanish wiped them out. With Dalton Rose joining him on art, “Sacrifice” is as surprising and challenging a first issue as you’re likely to find.
Hector gets out of the hospital after a suicide attempt and we see that the seizures he suffers from cause him to seemingly travel back in time to the Aztec civilization where it’s debated which god he was sent by and if he should be killed as a result. On a surface level, there isn’t a lot of plot to this issue and the manner in which it's told rarely comes out and tells the reader anything directly. So much of what happens is revealed through action directly without context or explanation and only becomes clear the further into the issue you get. It’s a confident and straight forward storytelling approach that makes some moments easy to follow and others disorienting and confusing, at least on a first reading.
Hector is somewhat of a passive character in this issue. We don’t know a lot about him yet and that’s actually an asset for this issue. He’s a blank enough state that it allows us to experience his problem through him more than if he were more well-defined. The debate over what to do with him by the Aztecs drives much of the issue and places Hector in both a position of danger and honor. His situation is an intriguing puzzle, especially when he figures out where he is and what is coming for the Aztecs.
Hector is also drawn in a somewhat ‘blank slate’ manner. Dark hair, nondescript face, and a general look of the ‘everyman.’ Rose shows off a variety of styles in this issue, going into intricate detail in some parts and pulling back for minimalism in others. A two-page spread that mixes Hector’s past, his seizures, and his Aztec experiences in one big montage is full-on crazy and is a wonderfully energetic display of what Rose can do. The contrast between the Aztecs and Hector is astounding and visualizes his outsider nature more than a simple change in clothes could accomplish. They look like genuinely different people of a different time at first, almost like something out of a Kirby comic.
Exactly what is happening in “Sacrifice” #1 is not entirely clear. Has Hector travelled back in time? Is it all in his head? Either way, what it all means is unknown and is an intriguing and gripping mystery. Where it will go is anyone’s guess, but the confident storytelling on display here by Humphries and Rose makes it easy to trust that they have a plan and it will pay off.