High Priestess, written and illustrated by Rees Finlay, follows Holly Peters as she fights crime with the help of angels and the supernatural. “Chapter One: Homecoming” opens the series with an interesting set of characters and a compelling storyline through a “cinematic” presentation of events.
To clarify “cinematic”, I mean that the comic reads very much like a movie. The comic is laid out almost like a storyboard, with the space between each panel acting like a cut between shots. Without ever being confusing, Finlay knows exactly when and where to direct the reader’s attention in order to effectively allow their mind to fill in the action. That being said, Finlay also knows how to deal with action packed scenes. In comics, I find that it is very difficult to portray the power of a fight as the comic book artist is limited to static 2D illustrations on a page. However, in High Priestess, Finlay is able to create intense action sequences by maintaining a calculated pace between panels.
One of my favorite aspects of High Priestess is the characters. The main character, Holly Peters, or the titular High Priestess, is anything but holy. While she may exact justice on a murderous gang called the Disciples, Holly swears, uses God’s name in vain, and seemingly kills (or at the very least brutally beats) her enemies with a mysterious blue light emanating from her hands. However, I can’t help but like her. Firstly, I am always appreciative of a female superhero that isn’t sexualized. Besides wearing clothes like a normal human being instead of some “busty” costume, Holly is not pretty. I’m not calling her ugly, but she isn’t “modeling” while fighting the bad guys.
I really applaud Finlay’s illustrations that show her with frown lines and wrinkles and her individual teeth (instead of the magical white strips found in many superheros mouths). Most of all, I love her weird facial expressions she dons when she fights because, reality check, people make really weird faces when they fight. The second reason I like Holly so much is because she’s extra spicy. Her snide remarks right before she pummels a thug adds much needed humor to what would be a super dark story. The other main character, Gabe, is Holly’s guardian angel. Like Holly, Gabe doesn’t seem like the typical angel everyone expects. For one, he takes smoke breaks. But his little quirks, which are very similar to Holly’s, make him a likable character.
I did get a little confused at the end. When Holly encountered a police officer named Chris in the beginning of the comic, she didn’t seem to remember him. But in the ending pages, there is a bit of narration that does in fact state she is going to Chris and someone named Amy. Is this narration her true thoughts, meaning that she was lying to Gabe? Does this narration happen before she became the High Priestess? Or after? Whatever the case, this bit of confusion does not deter me one bit from wanting to know what happens next.
Furthermore, Finlay then adds an epilogue, which drives me to yearn to read the second issue of the series. In this epilogue, illustrated by Shunaid Sawyers, Gabe talks to another angel, Lucy, about Holly’s fate. While I really enjoyed Finlay’s gritty illustrations for the main story that carries a dark tone, Sawyers’ drawings are perfect for the epilogue. Sawyers’ aesthetic is lighter and more composed, which is perfect as the epilogue takes place in sort of a heavenly realm/space. Sawyers’ more “beautiful” illustrations also pose an interesting juxtaposition as the angels seem to hint at ulterior motives for making Holly the High Priestess. Although we almost learn what Holly is, which would probably explain why she can survive a car crashing into her stomach, Lucy disappears, and my curiosity is intensified.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the next chapter. If a story can leave me with this sense of wanting more, then I would call it a major success.
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