Sacrifice by Sam Humphries and Dalton Rose (graphic novel review).

There’s a moment in Sam Humphries’ graphic novel ‘Sacrifice’ where you see Ian Curtis’ ankles. It’s a startling connection with reality, showing a one frame image of the lead singer of Joy Division’s suicide, but reflects the overwhelming feeling of doom in this book well. Don’t be put off by its teenage gothic trappings though, ‘Sacrifice’ is a well-paced, psychedelic story about a teen-ager who finds himself at the end of the Aztec civilisation and what he tries to do to save it.


Hector suffers from epileptic fits. As a child, he was fascinated by the Aztecs and remembers fondly his father telling him about the fallen nation. When Hector grows up, his epilepsy grew worse, triggering his journey into the world of the Aztecs. Through his ability to predict the future, the Aztecs of Tenchotitlan make him their High Priest. The problem is Hector knows what’s coming: the Spanish! He stands determined to warn the Aztecs and prepare them to fight back against the coming invasion.

Humphries’ book is enjoyable for a number of reasons. He introduces the complex relationship between the lead characters without talking-down to the reader and tackles the doubly-challenging content of rewriting history and presenting the key tenet of Aztec worship: human sacrifice.

The book does not shy away from these things and, as such, the gore is sometimes a little surprising. The art is well-drawn by Dalton Rose, who reflects Aztec imagery within his depictions of the city, the blood-letting and the fantastical gods are at times truly stunning. The book though very much belongs to Humphries. It is a personal story (Humphries himself is epileptic) and his treatment of Hector, named perhaps after the Trojan hero of another doomed city-state, is sensitively and intelligently handled.

‘Sacrifice’ is an unusual, but potent read about what it is to live, die and follow your beliefs. It’s inspired me to check out the Marvel titles that Humphries has worked on, too. It also features not just one cool tattoo, but two. Well worth seeking out and reading if you want something different.

John Rivers

(pub: Dark Horse Books. 168 page colour graphic novel hardback. Price: $19.99 (US), $21.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-59582-985-6)
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