Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose bring their mini-series to a close with "Sacrifice" #6, and my proverbial hat is off to them. Not only is everything wrapped up rather neatly in this story about the Aztec empire, epilepsy and a man from the present day, but they do so in a way that still allows for some slight interpretation on the reader's part to decide how some pieces of the puzzle played out.
With the collapse of the Aztec civilization and Hector having sacrificed himself, one might think that Humphries would be out of plot for "Sacrifice" #6. That's not the case, as he gives readers not an epilogue but rather one final, full chapter of the story. "Sacrifice" #6 finally explains exactly what was going on, avoiding the obvious (and disappointing) story ideas for something much more inventive and epic.
Or does it? One of the many things I appreciate about "Sacrifice" #6 is that on some level, Hector is an unreliable narrator. Because we see most of the book through his perspective, the reality of everything that plays out can be called into question if the reader wants it to be. Taken at face value, the answer to what's happening to Hector and his traveling back in time and space to the Aztec empire is satisfying and robust. But if you'd rather doubt Hector's own perspective of what happens, I feel that Humphries leaves that up to the reader. There's no "this is right, this is wrong, the end" sort of ultimatum, and it's a writing decision that I appreciate.
Personally, I feel the ending as presented in "Sacrifice" #6 makes sense not only from a plot perspective but also through its emotional content. "We both wanted to find a way back home," Malin says early on in the issue, and that's most definitely what readers get. It's not the journey home that one would expect, but it is immensely satisfying. That's something to be treasured in any form of storytelling.
Rose continues to get better and better as an artist with each issue. I feel like I'm seeing echoes of creators like Jose Ladronn in his pages of "Sacrifice" #6, with the slightly flat faces, the careful detail in the backgrounds and the almost psychedelic sequences that crop up with lines and colors forming a beautiful skein of threads. He's more than just someone able to draw all sorts of crazy detail, though. The scene with Hector and Violet looks great, in part because of the contrast of clothing even as there's the similarity of faces that we side-by-side. It makes Hector look both where he should be and out of place simultaneously, and it's that dissonance that I feel is an integral part of the conclusion to "Sacrifice." But perhaps most importantly, all bets are off when it comes to Quetzalcoatl, who looks awe-inspiring, terrifying and inviting all at once. It's exactly the way this god should look when he appears, and his grandeur makes his placement in the conclusion that much more satisfying.
Dark Horse has just announced a hardcover collection of "Sacrifice," and I'm tickled by the fact that it's going to get the high-level treatment that it deserves. Humphries and Rose started with a story about epilepsy, Joy Division and the Aztecs, and turned it into an amazing epic about promises and finding your purpose in life. If you're about to read "Sacrifice," be prepared to get blown away by what you'll find here. "Sacrifice" isn't as good as you've heard; it's even better. This is a comic that everyone involved with should be proud of.