Comic Book / Death Vigil

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Death Vigil is an ongoing action-horror-comedy comic written and drawn by Stjepan Sejic, of Witchblade and Sunstone fame. It began publication in July 2014.

Our story begins with a man named Sam Lewis, who died trying to rescue two women from a mugger. But when The Grim Reaper showed up, instead of passing on, he was recruited into the Death Vigil - a group of fighters under the Reaper's command who protect the world from the forces of evil.

In December 2014, Sejic announced that the 8-issue initial miniseries will be followed by a four-part miniseries focusing on how James became a member of the Vigil and first met and befriended Mia, after which the main series would resume as a full ongoing. Poor sales in spite of its critical acclaim, compounded by Sejic's health and technology issues, threatened the second volume. However on December 4, 2015, Sejic posted on Facebook that he would be making one more attempt at the series with a second arc.

Now has a character sheet that Needs Wiki Magic Love.

This series contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The Abyss is surprisingly polite, patient, and Nice to the Waiter for an Unspeakable Horror From Beyond The Veil. It probably helps that he's getting pretty much everything he ever wanted.
    • Faux Affably Evil: The Thorn, on the other hand, limits her affability to continuing to call Maria "mother", even after she's ripped her arm off.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Grace considers Bernie a surrogate daughter as Bernie reminds her of her daughter. She calls her 'Bette' instead of 'Bernie'.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Despite her arrogance, and all the things she's done and lives she's put at risk (if not outright destroyed), it's still hard not to feel sorry for Maria Benes. She's ultimately a broken woman driven off the deep end of the Slippery Slope by her daughter's death, only to be swept up into events she didn't truly understand, and was so misguided she genuinely believed what she was doing was right. It makes the means by which "Alicia" betrayed her and revealed that Bernie had been telling the truth all along that much more heartbreaking.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Some species of Unliving like Banshees or True Primordials can talk perfect, modern English to the human cast. In contrast, Liches speak in Black Speech.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Not even Bernie knows what her history is.
  • An Arm and a Leg: "Alicia" rips off Maria's arm — and with it the sigils controlling her — in order to free herself.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Pale Court has been lying in wait for millennia for the opportunity to manifest on Earth again. Maria's actions spur them to reveal themselves—and the Vigil—to the public.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Bernie introduces herself to Sam as Santa Claus in the first issue, as if the dark cloak, ashen face, and scythe didn't give her identity away already.
  • And I Must Scream: What happens to necromancers after they're sealed except when Clara does it.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Inverted by Wulf, who was Sam's mentor in the Vigil. And then Wulf's gifted surrogate daughter was killed in an accident and Bernie was unable to do anything for her. Although we never hear her reasoning from Bernie's perspective, Wulf claims she refused him, and didn't take it well.
    • It turns out that Bernie really was simply unable to help. The little girl's soul had already moved on. Which means that the thing egging Maria on is not her...
  • Audience Surrogate: Clara. Sam may be the main POV character, but most of what we learn about the Vigil's organization is presented through Clara's eyes. Sam's introduction is shown via flashbacks in parallel with Clara's experiences in the present.
  • Author Appeal: A quick look at the author's deviantART page shows that he is definitely One of Us, and just like in his other series, his appreciation for Collectible Card Games and MMORPGs is quite visible.
  • Back from the Dead: All of the Vigil members have been brought back from death by Bernie. Mia was also killed by her father as part of the ritual required to bind her with a primordial to save her from the disease which was killing her.
    • Maria's plan for the Scythe is to bring her dead daughter back to life. Unfortunately, it turns out her daughter's "ghost" is actually a primordial whose rise is part of the Pale Court's long game.
    • In issue 7, Clara manages to use her Veilripper to bring Sam back from death after having been killed by Wulf.
  • Badass Adorable: Mia, the centuries-old Primordial who takes the form of a teenage girl when not fighting.
  • Badass Beard: Sam has one.
  • Badass Boast: Clara gets one in issue 5, when the Pale Court attacks New York.
    "Everyone, do not look at the monsters! Run! Don't look back. They destroy minds with eye contact. And to the necromancers... run faster. Because we are coming."
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Allistor is a necromancer and Mia is a Primordial, but they get along with the Vigil and fight alongside its members.
  • Batman Gambit: Maria's plan is this. She orders the Pale Court to attack multiple cities to lure the Vigil into the open. Most of the attacks are feints to tie up other members and keep them from concentrating, and to set up a situation in which they need to call Bernie for aid. The main attack is in New York where she hopes the majority of the Vigil gathers. During the battle she dispatches Wulf to the Vigil's main house to wait for the exhausted Knights to return after Bernie is summoned by one of the feints, which she orchestrates by having one of the Necromancers turn themselves into a Lich. Wulf is to then turn Allistor to their cause, at which point they can collect the Veilrippers she needs to capture Bernie's Scythe. The entire plan basically relies on everybody doing exactly what she wants them to, and any deviation could have scuppered the whole thing.
  • Beach Episode: Sejic has a drawing of the cast on the beach on his deviantART page. He lampshades the scene, "because they totally look like summer types".
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The necromancers' One-Winged Angel forms are titanic, Lovecraftian monsters. Bernie's form, in contrast, has her keep her human form, only changing her face and clothing and sprouting black angel wings.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Bernie notes that the last known translation of the Dreamer's Codex was kept in the Library of Alexandria, and that that had been taken care of long ago.
  • Better Than Sex: Clara starts to say this about travelling through the Veil, but is shushed by Sam.
  • Big Applesauce: The Pale Court invokes New York's importance to draw out and distract the Vigil.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Hugin and Bernie in the first issue. In fact, Bernie has this as her hat; for the most part the members of the Vigil are on their own, but if they get in over their heads all they need to do is call her name.
    • Allistor and Mia take a turn bailing Sam out of trouble as well.
    • The Vigil as a whole does this when the Pale Court launches its full-scale attack on New York, spearheaded by Clara and Hugin riding in and accepting the Court's challenge on live TV.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Sam and Bernie in issue 8.
  • Big Bad: Maria Benes in the first arc, who is effectively leading the effort to take Bernie's Scythe.
    • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Wulf, who's much more an equal partner in her plot than a mere Dragon.
  • Big Good: Bernie, leader of the Death Vigil and not-quite-grim Reaper.
  • The Big Guy: Sam notes that while the other members of the Vigil can do clever things with their veilrippers, he just hits stuff. And he's certainly one of the biggest and physically strongest (human) member.
    • Hugin plays with the trope. He may not usually look like much, being a typically-sized raven. But in combat he turns into a friggen dinosaur, making him both one of the biggest and most powerful of the Death Knights.
    • There's also Hector, who only plays a small role when he falls into Maria's Batman Gambit and is forced to summon Bernadette away from the battle in New York. He's a bear.
  • Black and White Morality: Allistor accuses Bernie of falling under this belief — that the Vigil is strictly good and necromancers are strictly evil. Lampshaded by James and Mia jokingly calling her a "Paladin".
  • Black Eyes of Evil: When Wulf tries to attack Clara from behind, she shrugs off his posturing, with both her eyes, and the eyes in her sigils, turning black as the Primordial bonded to her surfaces. Normally, Clara's (and other Primordials') eyes turn red in this case. Suffice to say, it does not end well for him.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Bernie is just a normal person without her scythe, and Maria fully exploits that fact to trap her and take the scythe for her own needs.
  • The Cavalry: The Reaper has no problem with being summoned for engagements her Death Knights can't win on their own.
  • Came Back Strong:
    • Every member of the Vigil. While they have some special gift that even allows them to be raised as a Death Knight, in life they were nonetheless all normal human beings.
    • Mia was just an ordinary girl when she was dying of her illness. After being bound to a Primordial, however...
  • Came Back Wrong: When Clara was brought back as a member of the Vigil it's progressively made clear that something isn't right about her. Especially with... whatever the hell it was she did to that Necromancer in Issue 6. Oh, and Clara's boyfriend was in the midst of performing the ritual Allistor previously used to bind Mia with a Primordial...
    • Maria's entire plan was intended to bind the Primordial called the Thorn to Alicia's body, which is this trope all on its own. Unfortunately, Alicia's soul was already gone when Maria bound her, meaning that Alicia's body was just a shell and the Thorn took control of her body entirely. "Came Back Wrong" doesn't even begin to cover it.
  • The Cameo: During Jon and Clara's date at the beginning of Issue One, there is a brief single-panel cameo of two of Sejic's other characters, Ally and Lisa, also having a nice dinner.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bernie distracts a necromancer in issue four by introducing her presence, letting the other members of the Vigil seal his powers away. She distracts the Thorn in issue eight similarly, giving the other members of the Vigil the opportunity to destroy it.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Word of God is that Gallows is visually based on Mitt Romney.
  • Cool Gate: The Vigil creates 'markers' to teleport between distances by using the Veil. Later, Clara discovers she can make portals with her veilripper without the need to set up a marker.
  • Cool Mask: Marlene wears a white mask that covers the upper half of her face when fighting against necromancers. Sejic says she wears it because she has a life outside of the Vigil.
  • Creepy Child: "Alicia" is incredibly unnerving from the moment she awakens after being bound to the Thorn. Particularly how she continues keeping up the pretense of calling Maria her mother even after tearing off her arm.
  • Creepy Crows: Hugin "The Raven," the most powerful member of the Vigil.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Binding a person to a Eldritch Abomination nets the person Lovecraftian Superpowers in exchange for a ravenous hunger for what is implied to be people. People bound to a True Primordial shares the same hunger, but for lesser abominations than themselves.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the Vigil, but especially Marlene.
    Marlene: Blink once for yes, twice for no. *Gets a blank stare in response* No, really, any eye will do.
  • Dead to Begin With: Every member of the Vigil. This actually happens twice in the span of the first issue - first Sam, then Clara.
  • Death Dealer: James, aka "The Cardmaster." One of the few examples to not also be The Gambler. Good for him, since he doesn't look to be old enough to be admitted into any gambling establishment.
  • Death Is Cheap: The obvious interpretation is that Bernie revives people who have died as members of the Vigil. The second interpretation that appears in issue seven is that Clara can bring back Vigil members killed by necromancers.
  • Demonic Possession: Necromancers can fuse with Eldritch Abominations. They seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the abomination they host: they gain power and immortality, and keep their free will and sanity (most of the time), but on the other hand they need to hunt on humans to satiate their hunger. And there are special cases, such as Mia (who, despite hosting a True Primordial, kept her free will thanks to her father acting as a controller) and Clara, who is unknowingly hosting a True Primordial herself. Said True Primordial manifested a few times, once by saving Clara from a Necromancer, and the second time by helping her mend the mind of her ex-boyfriend. She even said "we" when doing the latter, though it seems she remains oblivious of his presence, and unlike Mia she doesn't have a fellow necromancer acting as her controller...
  • Determinator: Sam is very headstrong — crossing into Leeroy Jenkins territory at times. He manages to overcome the paralyzing effect of Banshee screams multiple times when other Vigil members were all knocked out by sheer force of will.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Mia, a True Primordial, is chummy with the cast, despite being one of the most powerful beings in the Death Vigil universe. She plays MMORPGs with James and has a 'girl talk' with Clara.
  • Dirty Coward: Slippery Simon, one of the necromancer flunkies Marlene and James take on, like his handle, would be on the run. Once he gets more powerful sigils, however, he gets overconfident in attacking Vigil members until backup arrives to take him down.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Bernardette is generally quite warm, friendly, and personable. She also doesn't actually take lives — just guards them and recruits the newly dead into the Vigil. Lampshaded in the first issue by having her point at a statue of the "classic" reaper and ask "Do I look anything like that?"
  • The Dreaded: The mere mention of "The Raven" is enough to make most necromancers crap their pants.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In several flavors. In addition to the standard evil-forces-from-beyond-reality that comprise the Primordial Enemy, there are also beings called Primordials, of which Mia is one. When she was dying of illness, Allistor bound the Primordial to her to save her life, one of several actions he took — wittingly or otherwise — that destroyed his friendship with Bernie.
    • Word of God states that there are four Primordials out there, and that the king of the Pale Court is also one of them.
    • During the battle in New York, a Necromancer attacks Clara when she tries to cut off his escape. Clara does...something to him and kills him. She has also been seen to have Necromancer marks on her back. And Clara's boyfriend was performing the same ritual on Clara that Allistor performed on Mia when he bound a Primordial to her before Sam interrupted him...
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gallows is a necromancer. All of his colleagues are necromancers. His boss is an Eldritch Abomination. They've all done some pretty awful stuff in their day. And even he thinks that Maria's plan to turn the Orach loose in a metropolitan area just to draw the Vigil's attention was cruel.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: When a necromancer activates their powers, glowing eyes appear inside the sigils on their bodies.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Wulf was once a member of the Vigil, until he fell in love with Maria Benes and became a surrogate father to her daughter Alicia. When Alicia was fatally injured in a car accident, Wulf called on Bernie to bring her back as a member of the Vigil since the girl was gifted. When Bernie told him that there was nothing she could do, it drove him to joining the Necromancers as part of Maria's plot to steal Bernie's scythe to resurrect her.
  • Family of Choice: When Allistor turns on the Vigil because he can relate to and understand the reasoning behind Wulf's Face–Heel Turn, he demands Mia leave with him. Mia, in outrage, refuses and tells him she's staying with her family, and chooses to stand with the Vigil over her father.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Thorn is disgusted by the existence of "impure" Primordials like Mia and The Abyss. The Abyss seems to agree, at least to the extent of gushing over how much more "pure" and "powerful" the Thorn is than himself.
  • First Episode Resurrection: Sam dies a few pages into the series, and Bernie revives him as a member of the Vigil. The same thing happens to Clara at the end of the first issue.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: While Sam is the narrator and protagonist, most of the character development is focused on Clara.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Vlado's one line in issue eight is Croatian for "Oh, fuck.... We're in thick shit."
  • Foreshadowing: All over the place regarding Clara being the host of a True Primordial.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • In the first issue, Bernie takes on another form to fight a Lich, though she doesn't want Clara to see it. From the sound of things, it may not much different from the creature she fights.
    • Mia as well. She normally appears as a cute teenaged girl. However she's actually a True Primordial, making her one of the most powerful entities in the series. The sight of regular Eldritch Abominations is enough to drive normal people insane. A True Primordial's true form is enough to kill any normal person who looks upon it — and unlike Bernie, we have seen Mia's Primordial form. It is not pretty.
  • Freaky Is Cool: In a supplemental comic, Mia expresses Freakiness Shame to James after not being able to fully revert her hair to normal after feeding. James thinks it looks cool.
  • Game Face:
    • Maria has one involving black tendrils emerging from her back and her eyes turning yellow, which she briefly shows when Gallows has been a bit too patronizing.
    • When Necromancers tap into their powers, the tattoos on their body are covered in eyes. Much to Sam's constant annoyance, this usually leads to them taking off their shirts. Their (normal) eyes sometimes turn red when they're about to go into battle. This has also been seen on Clara.
    • Bernie's face cracks to reveal a more skeletal appearance underneath when she has to extend her powers. The reader never clearly sees what she looks like in this form.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Members of the Vigil travel through the Veil, which provides them nourishment and feels good. Really good. After going through it the first time, Clara's expression looks like she's had the best sex of her life and she wants to travel through it again immediately.
    • Also, the carpet matches the drapes...
    • Vlado's pantomime with Chiyoko in issue six makes A Date with Rosie Palms joke — essentially calling the necromancer they're facing a "wanker".
  • Godzilla Threshold: While so much as looking at Eldritch Abominations is enough to drive a normal person mad, the sight of Mia going One-Winged Angel will outright kill them. This is part of the reason why in Issue Five the Pale Court launches its attack in the middle of downtown New York City; the presence of so many innocent witnesses hamstrings the Vigil by preventing Mia from involving herself in the fight, thus stripping them of one of their most powerful assets. However the Vigil decides the threat presented by the Court's public attack is so great that they have no choice but to unleash her despite the risk of collateral damage.
    • Bernie's nature actually invokes this: No matter how much she might like to, her scythe won't even touch a monster that's below a certain power level. Once again, the Pale Court takes advantage of this by sending a monster to New York that's too far below that threshold, and sends one that she can fight as a distraction to draw her away as part of Maria's plan.
      • Bernie's own One-Winged Angel form falls under this as well; as apparently even her Death Knights can't tolerate the sight of her, so she's only "seen" using it once against a sufficiently powerful threat.
  • Go Into the Light: Bernie introduces the Veil to Clara this way, before quickly taking back the words as being inaccurate.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Chiyoko's veilripper is a pair of goggles that allows her to see through walls.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: "Alicia," The Thorn, tears off Maria's arm through one of these. The viewer still manages to see the bloody aftermath, however.
  • Greater Scope Villain: The Abyss/Lord Azra, who provides Maria with everything she needs and even is willing to overlook her planned betrayal so long as the Court gets what it wants.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Allistor's backstory. He and Mia lived in France during the 13th Century, and when he reported the sighting of a demon in the streets of Paris to the church, he was arrested and taken to the Seraphim (Necromancers), who recruited him with claims they were fighting a fallen angel. However as he worked on translating the documents and tablets they requested of him him he learned the truth and sought out Bernie's help. They struck up a friendship, but this started to fall apart over the discovering of a veilripper Allistor kept as a trophy from a Death Knight he had fought and killed before learning the truth about the Seraphim. When his daughter, Mia, was dying of illness he turned to the Necromancers but they refused to act to save her, and Bernie also rebuffed him. Instead, out of desperation he took it upon himself to use the Dreamer's Sigil and sacrificed Mia to forcibly bind one of the Primordials to her to save her life. Mia showed an appetite for other Primordials, so he turned her loose on the Seraphim. Bernie later came to deal with them both, but Allistor essentially stalemated her by threatening to turn Mia loose against the Vigil and their families, so she backed down and departed warning him never to cross her path again. Since then, Allistor and Mia have been staunch allies of the Vigil, though not members themselves. Mia and James are close friends and she's very well-liked by the rest of the Knights, while Allistor is at least respected. His relationship with Bernie remains frosty, however.
  • Heel Realization: Maria Benes is shown to be fighting against one in Issue 5. It doesn't last, however, after a few words from 'Alicia'.
    • Allistor gets hit hard with one in issue 7. He betrays the Vigil after their victory in New York after Wulf plays on his own situation with Mia, as Allistor has never forgiven Bernie for letting Mia die rather than help him. It turns out he was badly mistaken. Upon reading Sam's memories, he learns that Bernie confided in him she was going to help Mia, but Allistor took action before she could do so. This leads him to finally agree to help the Vigil assault the Pale Court to rescue Bernie and recover the Scythe.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: When Bernie prepares to confront the Thorn as part of the plan to defeat it, she alters her appearance so the skull and crossbones logo on Sam's shirt is displayed prominently on her robes, and the Scythe takes the form of his veilrippers.
    Sam: Copycat!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sam manages to regain his ability to move after a Banshee ambush in issue 6, and uses it to attack Wulf and buy enough time for Clara to port the rest of the immobilized Vigil members safely out of range of the entity blocking Bernie from being summoned. It gets him run through by Wulf for his trouble, and Bernie is summoned away by Maria to steal her Scythe before she can try to help him.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Sejic takes the time to flesh out Vigil members by showing their lives outside of fighting monsters. Marlene dabbles as a Gadgeteer Genius, Bernie dances to the tunes of Nightwish, and James and Mia play video games.
  • Hidden Depths: Allistor and Maria see Bernie as heartless for not helping their passing loved ones. While Bernie does put on a mask of confidence and aloofness in public, it's clear from her interactions with Sam that she's broken inside from so many (second) deaths.
  • Hide Your Otherness: Mia is a True Primordial, but she appears as a teenage girl, not only to hide her identity, but to prevent Muggles from going crazy at the sight of her.
  • Horrifying the Horror: In a world invaded by Eldritch Abomination, there are a couple of things that can make those accursed beings run in the other direction as fast as they can if they are clever enough to know what they are dealing with: True Primordials (such as Mia) and Bernardette.
  • Horror Hunger: Mia craves lesser Primordials as food. She implies 'normal' Primordials eat people.
  • Horse of a Different Color: Clara rides on Hugin to quickly reach New York without nearby markers.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Veilrippers are significant to their wielder in some subconscious way, and have some unique power or property that's not always apparent, and which the members of the Vigil have to figure out on their own. Clara, for example, can use her feather to create portals, and she can also view the memories of anyone she touches with it.note  Despite years as a member of the Vigil, Sam has yet to discover the purpose of his veilrippers, so mostly uses them to pummel things. Though he can also use them to summon a boatload (literally) of draugr to help him in a fight.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Mia lost a large chunk of her humanity after being bound to a True Primordial and used as a threat against Bernie in the 13th century. Spending time with her father and James helps her regain her humanity.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Mia, after being bonded to a Primordial when she was dying in 13th Century France.
  • I Have Many Names: Bernadette and Allistor have both changed their names multiple times in the past.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: Clara's veilripper is a pen that allows her to draw things into existence.
  • Immortality Begins at 20: The Vigil are locked at the age they died; hence James being called "kid" despite having been in the Vigil longer than Sam.
    • Necromancers as well; Allistor is still the same age he was as when he was first recruited by the Seraphim, while Mia, who was bonded as a youth to one of the Primordials in the 13th Century, looks no older than James.
  • Immortal Immaturity: Mia plays video games, has a teenage crush on James, and complains to her dad about having to finish her food despite being hundreds of years old.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: This is Wulf's preferred method of dispatching enemies. He successfully does this to Sam with his necromancy-enhanced veilripper in issue six (he gets better), and he tries to kill Clara with Spider Limbs this way in in issue eight.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Many veilrippers don't take the form of a weapon. Sam uses a shovel and pick, Clara uses a quill pen, and James uses playing cards.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: invoked What Sam thinks of Bernie's jokes.
    • After Clara makes one, Sam points out that all the Vigil members seem prone to making them.
  • In Love with the Mark: The necromancer in the first issue genuinely fell in love with Clara at some point during his manipulation of her.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Vlado and Chiyoko.
  • In the Hood: Wulf is introduced this way at first, mostly to obscure his identity as a past Vigil member.
  • Invisible to Normals: Normal people can't see Bernie, and she can't be photographed, either. Marlene states to Clara that she has been trying to construct a camera that can capture her on camera. It turns out that she can be seen if she loses her link with the scythe.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: The trope is a requirement for binding a person to a True Primordial, since the ritual is fueled by the feelings of pain and betrayal that cannot be achieved in other manners.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Many of the drawings Sejic uploads onto his deviantART page depict characters and events not yet portrayed in the main comic.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Joining the Vigil dyes the person's hair white. Wielding Bernie's scythe causes bleached hair and skin, although that is reversible.
  • Losing Your Head: Gunnar gets decapitated during a fight with a banshee. Being a zombie, he's fine and will reassemble himself in about a week.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Activating necromancer sigils causes eyes and tentacles to spawn on the person's body—not to mention the horrors that necromancers summon.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Yes, the plot is about battling eldritch horrors from beyond reality, but that doesn't mean that the characters can't have some fun while doing it.
  • Monster from Beyond the Veil: The Pale Court reveals to Gallows that what Maria is reviving isn't her deceased daughter but a True Primordial.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: Mia normally takes on the form of a teenage girl. Against necromancer forces, she turns into... this.
  • Mundane Utility: Clara discovers her Veilripper, the Starlock, can create magical portals, useful for hurling charging monsters to their doom. Also good for reaching into one and scratching your own back.
  • My Fist Forgives You: Clara gives Jon a bloody nose after she saves him from A Fate Worse Than Death, and Sam punches Allistor after he briefly sides with Wulf.
  • Mystical White Hair: Everyone in the Vigil, as a result of being resurrected. Sam even calls this part of the package the "Dye After You Die Club". Hugin is covered head-to-claw in white feathers. And according to Clara, the carpet does, in fact, match the drapes.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Clara is this, allowing her conversations with Experienced Protagonist Sam to use her as the primary source of exposition.
  • Naked on Revival: Subverted, much to Bernie's amusement:
    Samuel, this scythe can remake a body. Did you really think clothes would be a problem?
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: Judging what's been revealed so far, the villains consist of an uneasy alliance between The Pale Court, who provides the muscle, and Maria Benes, who translates the codex.
  • Necromantic: Maria's motivation for helping the Pale Court is to bring Alicia back after Bernie denied her help.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Hugin really gets annoyed at people quoting or making jokes based on Poe's "The Raven".
    James: Quoth the Raven-
    Hugin: SHUT THE HELL UP, JAMES!
  • Never My Fault: Maria apparently realizes just how big she screwed up right around the time "Alicia" tears off her arm to free herself from Maria's control. Wulf, however, refuses to believe what he's seeing, and assaults Clara while insisting that Alicia is merely scared and and confused. He simply can't accept that they were wrong.
  • Newcomer Saves the Day: In the end of the first volume, it is the newest member of the Vigil, Clara, who saves everyone from the Pale Court's trap with her teleportation abilities and good old investigative skill, although this isn't the straightest example, as she is all but revealed to be the host of a Primordial—who is even older than the Vigil itself and just happens to work with them at the moment without them knowing.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Mia, an Eldritch Abomination in the form of an adorable girl who eats other abominations.
  • No Body Left Behind: Sam points out that the creatures summoned from the Veil conveniently disintegrate after being slain.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: Neither Clara nor Sam directly take down The Thorn. Bernie cracks open The Thorn's armor, and Chiyoko and Vlado shoot it down.
  • Not Quite Dead: Gallows and the Abyss write Maria off at the conclusion of the final battle. However the last issue ends with Maria's regenerating arm breaking through the rubble under which she's trapped, indicating she actually survived.
  • Oh, Crap!: The series is so full of these moments it could basically be "Oh Crap: The Series:"
    • A very subdued one by Allistor. After Mia show's him the Dreamer's Sigil drawn by Clara's boyfriend, he immediately states they need to warn the Vigil, despite the hostility between him and Bernie. Since Issue 5 implies that Clara's boyfriend was attempting to use her body to bind a Primordial like Allistor himself did with Mia 800 years earlier, his response is notably an underreaction.
    • They get much bigger as the series goes along, especially when Maria directs the Pale Court to wage open war against the Vigil in the middle of downtown New York in broad daylight.
    • Issue 6 again when Wulf's betrayal and ambush — with multiple banshees, even one of which was able to paralyze Sam in the first issue — is revealed.
    • A big one in issue 8 when "Alicia" rips off Maria's arm, severing the Restraining Bolt that, like Heinrich's control of Mia, enabled Maria to maintain control of the Thorn while she was bound to Alicia's body: a True Primordial running loose with nothing to limit its power.
  • Older Than They Look: Almost all major characters, since both the Necromancers and the Vigil are immortal and stop aging. On the low end we have Clara who is one week older than she looks as of issue #4, on the upper end we have several people in the Really 700 Years Old category. And then there's Bernie. Most seem to stay at the same mental age, so technically-25-year-old James and technically-820ish Mia engage in a teenage friendship slash light romance.
  • One-Winged Angel: Interestingly, most examples of this here are good guys - the villains tend not to bother hiding in the first place.
    • Bernie apparently has one, but we don't get to see it just yet.
    • Mia normally looks like a cute teenage girl. But when it's time to get down to business she reveals her true form; a monstrous Eldritch Abomination that literally eats other eldritch abominations for breakfast.note 
  • Only One Name: Most modern characters are given a first and last name, while characters that have lived for a long time (Bernie, Allistor) only use first names, as they have forgotten their original names and/or change them around.
  • Operation: [Blank]: The names for the strategy used to combat The Thorn include 'Plan C', 'portalbombing', and, as James later dubs it, 'Operation Black Arrow'.
  • Ordered Apology: Clara asks this of Bernie after seeing Bernie's history with Allistor. Bernie nearly makes the apology, but she is interrupted by other Vigil members summoning her. In issue eight, Bernie finally makes that apology of her own volition.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: They appear as one type of Unliving. Their screams can knock someone back a few feet and completely paralyze them.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Sam is 'killed' again in issue six, only to be revived by Clara in issue seven.
  • Our Liches Are Different: They're a lot uglier than usual, for one thing.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Seraphim of the 13th century were a circle of necromancers masquerading as clerics of God.
  • The Pen Is Mightier:
    • Clara's veilripper, Starlock, is remarkably useful against necromancers despite being a quill pen, as it can Think Up Portals and access/heal memories. Sam, of course, mentions that Anubis also uses a quill and it's mightier than a sword.
    • A cameo Vigil member in issue five uses a ink well and brush.
  • Perky Goth: Bernadette dresses in a Black Cloak and the effect of the scythe gives her pale skin and hair, but she is very cheerful to members of the Vigil.
  • Portal Network: Vigil members place 'markers' in frequently-visited areas in order to teleport there using the Veil. The lack of a nearby marker in New York City becomes an issue when the Vigil has to arrive there quickly to stop a necromancer attack, until Clara reveals her veilripper can teleport them there.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Bernie doesn't exactly know why the scythe creates veilrippers in the shapes they have and why it doesn't act on enemies below a Lich in power.
    • Sam, despite having been in the Vigil for twelve years while Clara joined, hasn't determined his veilrippers' special abilities. Therefore, he just uses them to bash necromancers.
  • Power Tattoo: Necromancers gain their power from sigils tattooed on their bodies. Clara also has one that she doesn't seem to know about.
  • Public-Domain Character: The Vigil has Hugin and Anubis. In issue six, it's heavily hinted that Wulf is missing a Beo- in front of his name. Issue 8 confirms it.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Mia looks 15. Sejic has noted her to be 820ish years old. Issue 5 reveals she and her father lived during the 13th Century, when Allistor unwittingly was recruited into the Necromancers, and later bound a Primordial to Mia's body to save her when she was dying of an illness.
    • Bernie took out the Pale Court 3,000 years ago, and given that not even she can remember all of her history, she's probably quite a bit older than that.
  • Red Baron: Everyone in the Vigil sooner or later has one, apparently. Sam is known and feared as "The Digger," Hugin is "The Raven," James is "The Cardmaster," etc.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Clara's eyes occasionally glow red when she's really angry. This is the first indicator of Very Bad Things. It's the first indicator that that Jon's attempt to link her to a Primordial, like Mia was to the Beast, was successful.
    • Several Necromancers have been seen doing the same, and it's the color of the eyes that appear amongst their tattoos.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Several examples, which are all implied to examples of Historical-Domain Character instead.
    • Hugin is named after Huginn of Norse Mythology, who is one of Odin's ravens.
    • Anubis, another member of the Vigil, is named for the God of Mummification in Egyptian Mythology.
    • Wulf has a lot of elements connected to Beowulf. In Issue 8, he reveals this is because it is him.
  • Restraining Bolt: Allistor's sigils act as one for Mia, helping her keep the Beast under control, particularly after she was first bonded. Maria's later do the same for Alicia, at least until Alicia tears Maria's arm off to break her control. Notably, despite this, Allistor's control over Mia isn't absolute. When he betrays the Vigil after Wulf plays on his sympathies, Mia rebels against him and remains true to the Vigil instead.
  • The Reveal: Mia's backstory in issue 5 reveals just what it was that Clara's boyfriend was doing in the first issue: He was attempting to use Clara to bind and control one of the Primordials. Considering that Mia alone presents a significant enough threat that Allistor was able to blackmail Bernie into leaving them in peace by threatening to unleash her against them, this would have been a very, very bad thing.
    • Issue 8 reveals Sam and Bernie have been in love, and possibly in a relationship, for at least six years prior to the series. None of the other Vigil members so much as bat an eye at their Big Damn Kiss right before the final battle. It completely changes how one reads their interactions throughout the series.
  • Rogue Agent: Wulf, who now works for Maria.
  • Running Gag: Necromancers taking their shirts off to battle Sam (or Allistor taking his shirt off to attack the other Necromancers attacking Sam). And Sam's exasperation with it.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The Beast is bound to Mia, who can unleash it to combat and consume other Primordials.
    • Alicia even more so: While Mia's human soul has bonded with the Beast, Alicia's soul had long ago passed into death leaving her body an empty shell. The Thorn has total control of the body.
  • Secret Relationship: A meta example with Sam and Bernie, in which the relationship was being hidden from the audience. While Bernie clearly cares a great deal for all of her Death Knights and personally takes any death among them nearly to the point of Heroic B.S.O.D., throughout the series she's demonstrated a particular concern for Sam's well-being, which gets played for Will They or Won't They? Ship Teasing. And then issue 8 reveals to the audience that Sam and Bernie had been together all along, completely changing the reading of their interactions earlier in the series.
  • The Shadow Knows: A sketch cover shows Hugin as a bird with his shadow as his allosaur form.
  • Ship Tease: There's some mild teasing between Sam and Bernie, present right from the very first issue when Bernie seems to take unusual exception to the thought of Sam dying (again) after she reveals that several other members of the Vigil have recently been killed.
    • Confirmed in issue 8 that Sam and Bernie are in love when he plants a Big Damn Kiss on her right before she charges off to battle The Thorn, and that the other treasured memory he held onto when he was "dead" was of another kiss they shared six years ago while Bernie was Heroic BSODing.
  • A Sinister Clue: Clara uses Starlock with her left hand. It's implied she's not entirely right after Jon attempted to bind a Primordial to her.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The characters occasionally give this impression, mostly thanks to some inconsistent contraction usage.
  • Spit Take: Jane's reaction to seeing Clara riding a dinosaur on the news.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: One of the scythe's powers is to create veilrippers.
  • Stress Vomit: Clara's initial reaction after being told that her boyfriend killed her and her soul is being used to keep a rift containing Eldritch Abominations open. Unfortunately for her, the dead can't vomit.
  • Summon Bigger Fish:
    • Bernie makes sure she's available for this, for good reason. At the start of the series, the Vigil has just lost two members who didn't summon her for help. Issue 6 reveals that the call is automatic and she can't resist it even if she wants or needs to. This turns into a plot-point twice: first, she's summoned while about to try mending her relationship with Allistor, who subsequently sided with Wulf once Wulf explained his actions.note  The second time is after Wulf fatally stabs Sam, and she's drawn away by Maria before she can act so she can steal Bernie's scythe.
    • This is one of Sam's powers; see Gunnar and his band of draugr in the first issue.
    • James's veilripper is a Magic: The Gathering-style card deck, which he uses, among other things, to summon creatures and spirits to fight on his behalf.
  • Super Mode: Normally, Hugin is an average-sized raven, albeit pure white and sapient. When in combat, he turns into an allosaur.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Mia and Clara both have one courtesy of the Primordials bound to their souls. Most of the time they look pretty normal, but when in combat or pushed too far the Primordial takes control and they go One-Winged Angel. Notably, it's the blending of their human souls (with Mia helped by her father acting as a Restraining Bolt) that keeps the Primordials on the side of angels. The entities themselves are in fact innately evil.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Clara's eyes turn yellow or red when she's angry.
  • Super Speed: Marlene either has this or a Flash Step as an effect of her veilripper.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Sam is the protagonist and POV character, but most of the character development and scenes revolve around Clara.
  • Talking Animal: Hugin and Hector are both animals in the Vigil that speak English.
  • Team Mom: Bernie fills this role for all her Death Knights, worries over their safety and well-being (especially Sam's), and always puts herself on the line to help and protect them. She becomes deeply distraught whenever one of her Knights falls, especially if it's a situation she could have prevented if they summoned her.
    • Grace is this among the Knights themselves, and fills the role of surrogate mother at home. In fact she even tries to be Team Mom for Bernie, not letting a little thing like actual agenote  get in the way.
  • Tears of Remorse: The deaths caused by Maria's ongoing plan puts her into tears. She gets over it, however, without a change of heart.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Allistor and Bernie don't get along. Turns out Allistor unwittingly joined the Necromancers after being duped into believing they were the good guys back in the 13th Century, only to discover the truth himself. He came to Bernie seeking help and the pair struck up a close friendship which was destroyed when Bernie discovered the veilripper of a slain member of the Vigil in Allistor's possession. Later, when Mia was dying, Bernie would do nothing to help her, so Allistor took it upon himself to save her by binding her to one of the Primordials. Bernie was essentially blackmailed into turn a blind eye and let Mia live — especially since she turned to devouring other Primordials and necromancers — but under the condition they never cross paths again. That said, they're still all on the same side, and despite Bernie's insistence otherwise, they have continued to interact with each other over the centuries.
    • Maria Benes is only using the Pale Court for her own ends. She wishes to become the new Reaper, at which point she intends to turn on and destroy her allies once she has what she wants. The Pale Court is fully aware of her plans, but are willing to go along with it until she gives them the translated codexes nonetheless.
  • Thinking Up Portals: One of Clara's powers.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Necromancers contacted by Primordials start hallucinating their loved ones. In Maria's case, she completely believes Alicia to be real.
  • Time Abyss: As noted elsewhere, Bernie is at least 3,000 years old, and given that not even she remembers her origins or history, the actual number is likely quite a bit higher.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Heinrich / Allistor is a Necromancer allied with the Vigil. He was recruited into the Necromancers when he tried to report the sighting of a demon to the church and was instead arrested and taken before the Seraphim, who deceived him into joining their ranks to fight the Vigil. Allistor learned the truth and turned on his masters. Unfortunately, his actions to save Mia from the disease which was killing her permanently soured his friendship with Bernie.
    • Mia as well. She looks like a cute teenage girl, but is actually one of the Primordials note  and an incredibly powerful Eldritch Abomination who loves to chow down on other eldritch abominations. She's also very close friends with James (with evidence they share a teenage crush on one another), and is generally well-liked by the rest of the Vigil.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Less "tome," more "giant stone slabs," but the Dreamers' Codex fills the role.
  • Too Much Information: Gunnar, one of Sam's oathbound undead vikings, notes that the bloodbath about to happen isn't even enough to wash his armpits with.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Clara doesn't remember what she exactly did to kill Lord Asrah — probably because of the True Primordial acting through her.
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: The Thorn disguises herself in the image of Maria's daughter in order to manipulate Maria into bringing her into the human world.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Scythe is the source of Bernie's powers, and Maria, the antagonist of the first arc, plots to take the Scythe and use it power to bring her daughter back.
  • The Unmasqued World: For most of history, the battle between the Pale Court and the Vigil has played out in the background and shadows. Beginning in Issue 5, under Maria's direction the Court finally goes to full-scale and open war against the mortal world, launching broad-daylight attacks on several cities, including the heart of New York. The Vigil is left with no choice but to act.
  • Un-Cancelled: Sejic announced early in December, 2015, that plans for the second arc had been cancelled as a result of the combination of poor sales, health, and technology issues. However this was reversed mere days later after widespread outpouring of support from fans and, of course, his wife.
  • Urban Fantasy: The story features a fight against Eldritch Abominations in a modern-day setting with fantasy weapons. When both protagonists and antagonists are immortal, of course they have to keep up with the times.
  • Weak, but Skilled: James relies less on brute force to beat necromancers and more on tactics drawn from his deck of cards.
  • Weapon Tombstone: The gravestone on issue six's cover has Sam's veilrippers on it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Maria's only goal is to bring her daughter back to life. And in the process she's made pacts with the Pale Court and necromancers, unleashed hell on earth in New York, and stolen the Scythe from Bernie. And, apparently, all for naught. What she's bringing back is most definitely not her daughter.
    • Issue 7 hints that Jon was performing the bonding ritual on Clara believing it was the only way to protect her from what was to come after talking with the spirit of his dead father. However the rest of the issue hints that, like Maria, he was being misled by a primordial all along.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Allistor and Bernie were on better terms with one another before Bernie noticed that he had a veilripper as a trophy. She had kept a grudge against him for 800 years since.
  • Wham Episode: Issue six. Maria captures Bernie and steals the Scythe, Allistor betrays the Vigil (though Mia rebels and sides with them), and Sam is apparently killed by Wulf.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Bernie watches out for Sam more than anyone else, and Sam admits that Bernie's charm is one factor in his decision to join the Vigil. They share a Big Damn Kiss in issue 8, though Sam's monologue reveals they've already kissed once before, implying it's possible They Already Did but have just been low-key about it.
  • Winged Humanoid: One of Bernie's forms has black feathered wings, possibly to give the appearance of an 'angel of death'. The imagery is used to at least intimidate and distract a necromancer until Allistor enters the fray.
  • Woman in White: Bernie introduced herself to the dead in all-white a few times, but she laments that too many people joked to her about being "Bernie the White".
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Eye contact with Primordials drive regular people into madness-induced comas or death.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Despite having some eight centuries to feed, Mia is still not as powerful as the Thorn, and the best she can hope for is to just slow her down while the Vigil puts its plans to kill her into motion. So a sizable part of Mia's strategy is this.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/DeathVigil