Priest Vol. #05 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Thursday, April 28, 2005
Release Date: Saturday, March 01, 2003



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Min-Woo Hyung
Translated by:Jessica Kim
Adapted by:

What They Say
Vascar De Guillon was once willing to give his life for the cross serving as a knight in the crusades. His faith was shattered after he lost his wife and children to plague. Consumed by rage, he made a pact with the fallen archangel Temozarela, becoming his agent in the mortal world and slaughtering countless innocents. When De Guillon is brought to trial for his sins, the church sends their top priest to serve as prosecutor - Belial Gabarre. The prosecutor finds himself the defendant when De Guillon uses any means at his unholy disposal in his attempt to corrupt Belial's faith.

The Review
Packaging:
This cover is probably my favorite so far in the series of original covers that Tokyopop has done. The cover features the fallen angel Temozarela, perched on some sort of tower holding a bloody sword in his hands, while dead angels are falling to the ground behind him. It’s quite a haunting and beautiful cover that fits this volume perfectly. The logo is similar to the Korean version, just a bit more refined and of different color, along the top of the cover. The back cover features an illustration of the rock statue that was blocking the whole to Temozarela’s tomb. The summary is written in a font that adds to the whole occult/gothic feel of the book.

This is a great presentation once again, with the print done on black pages that is right for the gothic horror feel. There are no extras and the chapter/volume headers are present. The print job is nicely done, especially when you consider the heavy black tones that are frequently used in the artwork.


Art:
Since this volume takes place well before the western setting with Ivan Isaacs, Hyung gets a chance to branch out and try some new settings and characters that are frankly, fantastic. The Crusaders in the first few chapters are terrifying, Temozarela’s tomb is vast and breathless, and the witch burnings and big churches during Betheal’s story give me the shivers. I really enjoyed seeing Hyung’s artwork applied to some new settings and it works quite well.

There is not a lot of action in this volume but one thing I noticed, that I wanted to make sure to point out, is how Hyung is able to tell a story without the use of a lot of dialogue. His sequences of panels are able to convey a scene perfectly without one word spoken. One such scene is where Betheal finds the baby Matthew during a raid on a cult. There’s only minor narration text and most of the scene is described through his illustrations. Wonderful work.


Text/SFX:
The SFX are left untouched and not translated. The SFX are very minimal and are so much a part of the artwork that I’m glad they are left as is. I never really felt like I need a translation, so the lack of English text was not a bother.

The dialogue is plentiful in this volume, as this is the one where a lot of information is divulged to the reader. The translation/adaptation is done very, very nicely. There’s a scene with Vascar and Betheal going head to head with their wills against each other, and the dialogue is just captivating, really capturing the mood and emotions of the scene. There’s TONS of religious references and dialogue and it comes across clear and concise. Great job.

Also, if you are getting confused on the Betheal/Belial thing, don’t be. It is supposed to be Betheal in this volume, as his name will change later on.


Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
For those of you who have been thirsting for answers, your prayers have been answered as this volume of Priest begins to flush out the two major players who have been behind the scenes, Temozarela and Belial. What began as a simple revenge story for Ivan has now turned into an epic holy war that has been going on since the dawn of man.

The story kicks off with Ivan explaining the story of Vascar De Guillon, Knight of the 12 Citadels who led many crusades against those declared heretics by the church. He carried out his plight without mercy, killing women and children, and never once faltered in his faith. However, his faith is lost after his wife and daughter are killed after being diagnosed with a highly contagious plague that was thought to be the work of the devil. The church also calls off the crusades, which sends Sir Vascar off the edge of sanity as he still carries out executions of the heretics all across the land, until one day he comes across a mysterious stone statue that is blocking a hole into a tomb. This is the tomb of Temozarela, where Vascar finds out about a fallen angel who also was abandoned by God.

The tomb of Temozarela is haunting, a large dark cavern filled with statues of gigantic angels who look ready for war. A voice, who identifies himself as Temozarela, fills the cavern and tells Vascar about a battle with fallen angels during the creation of man. It seems that Temozarela and the other angels were abandoned by God in favor of the humans, and in a move of revenge tried to change the humans faith by appearing before them and having them make statues in honor to Temozarela and the other angels. God strikes them down and they are cast out of heaven and now remain imprisoned inside of these statues that were built in their honor. Temozarela wants to destroy the humans and get his revenge on God, and in order to that he and the other 12 angels take human form by entering the bodies of Vascar and his troops.

That brings us to Betheal Gabarre, a witch hunter and heretic trial judge, who is living centuries after Sir Vascar. Betheal is a lot like Vascar in that he carries out his duties without question and is strong in faith, but this is ultimately what leads to his demise. Vascar is found in a village, which has been completely wiped out, and he is sent to a secret trial with Betheal as the judge to hand out the punishment. However, Vascar is no longer himself and now is possessed by Temozarela. What follows is a great battle of wills and a horrifying, cliffhanger conclusion that had me gasping for breath. It’s about to get really dark here folks, and no punches are spared.

So we got epic holy wars, fallen angels wanting revenge on God, human bloodbaths, crusaders against God, and a heretic trial judge who is about to have his test in faith. Let the drooling begin. The content here is extremely rich and filled with a lot of dark, religious themes and storylines. To go along with all this is a lot of great imagery that really enhances the story being told. Seeing Temozarela and Belial now getting flushed out gives them a lot more depth, while also changing the way that the first volumes are viewed. Temozarela is no longer a scary demon of sorts, but he has a face and a purpose now. We know that Belial wasn’t always a devil, but he was also a human named Betheal who did his best carrying out God’s word. Flushing out these two characters really starts to changed the dynamics of the story from here on out, as well as the previous volumes which I now recommend going back and reading with this newly gained perspective.

Comments
This volume begins flushing out the history behind two of the mysterious characters who have been behind the scenes this whole time, Temozarela and Belial. After learning about this history of these two, this story changes from being about Ivan’s revenge and now becomes an epic holy war fueled by the hatred of a few in which Ivan is just another small piece. The dynamics in the story have changed, not only future plots but the ones from previous volumes can now be seen in a different light. This is one of the more engrossing volumes of manga I have ever read.

I love the grand, epic spin on the tale and it makes me feel like I am reading some sort of classic. I am completely hooked on Priest at this point. The great imagery and artwork by Hyung really enhances the mood and gives the story that grandness it needs. Solid stuff here and very much recommended.



Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1-59182-201-7
Size: B6
Orientation: Left to Right