(Image credit: AWA Studios)
Fusing elements of “The Exorcist” and” “Alien,” “Sacrament” is an unsettling new sci-fi horror comic series from AWA Studios that will launch readers into the far-future universe of 2999, where remnants of God’s good work still survive on some alien planets and religious faith is medically removed by a totalitarian regime via psychosurgery,
In this spiritual void, a conflicted Catholic priest named Father Vass is summoned to investigate a series of violent murders and nightmares on the planet Cal IV that all have a particular religious element to them. Are these horrific crimes the work of a nefarious alien intelligence or demonic possession?
Crafted by acclaimed British writer Peter Milligan (“Venom vs Carnage,” “Dogs of London,” “Justice League Dark”) and blessed with atmospheric art from Argentine illustrator Marcelo Frusin (“Kick-Ass,” “John Constantine: Hellblazer”) “Sacrament” arrives in comic shops and online platforms starting on Aug. 3, 2022.
To enlighten your interests, Space.com has an exclusive look at the premiere issue alongside revealing comments from its award-winning author.
The five-issue miniseries delves into a range of provocative theological topics, all injected into a fascinating techno-driven realm where this surviving member of the church is first called to a remote space colony to perform an exorcism, proving that you can’t escape your demons and the Devil is real. And honestly, who can resist a comic that contains a 400-year-old female Pope cruising the galaxy in a colossal spaceship emblazoned with the Holy Roman cross!
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We recently connected with Milligan to hear more about this Christianity-led sci-fi series coming this summer.
Space.com: What was the comic’s genesis and where did your inspirations spring from?
Peter Milligan: The first spark that lit the fire came a while back when I read an article about the possibility that in some far-flung future, mankind might save itself by fleeing the doomed Earth and heading into space. My first thought was, save itself from what? The idea that mankind escaped from the behavior that had ruined one world by going to another world seemed highly suspect, to say the least. Earth wasn’t the problem, we were. You can’t run away from your demons … because your demons are inside you.
This idea, of mankind trying to flee its demons … only for its demons to follow it … slowly morphed into the story called “Sacrament.”
As for other inspirations, I enjoy good demon possession stories – from M.R. James to the peerless “Exorcist” – and like tales that explore faith and belief – indeed, one of the inspirations for our main character in “Sacrament” – Father Vass – was Graham Greene’s “Whisky Priest” in “The Power and the Glory.” I really liked the idea of space, with all its yawning emptiness and possibility, as a backdrop to tell the story of a man and a people struggling with their demons.
Space.com: How was it working with Marcelo Frusin and how does his art elevate this story?
PM: Marcelo has really brought this story to life. Though the story’s set in space and deals with colony planets and demons, at its heart, “Sacrament” is a very human story and Marcelo has a genius for making characters come alive, their expressions, their inner struggles, their sorrows – Marcelo just captures it. And he contrasts this very personal world with astonishing images of horror and space. I can’t imagine “Sacrament” being drawn by anyone but Marcelo.
Space.com: How does the comic’s inciting incident cement the overall tone for this sci-fi series?
PM: I believe the tone of the story is set in the first, harrowing scene. The year is 2999 and we’re on a distant planet where the air stings the throat like corrosive sewage. A priest and his adoring novice visit a girl whose parents believe has been possessed by a demon or devil. The problem is, this priest has pretty much lost his faith. Distant polluted worlds. A priest struggling with the tattered remnants of his faith. A demon presence that seems to have followed mankind into these far reaches of space. While the inner journeys of our characters are realistic – belief, shame, lust – the world they occupy is a fantastic world of space travel and demons.
Space.com: Has working with AWA Studios given you more artistic freedom to tell stories like “Sacrament”?
PM: Working with AWA is a totally liberating experience. In short: I am writing the story I want to write, in the way I want to write it. AWA has a great editorial team, smart, challenging, encouraging. But the editorial input is always aimed at helping the writer create the best version of the story that he or she wants to write.AWA Studios’ “Sacrament #1” arrives on Aug. 3.
Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.