Sigil #5: Death Match
by Chuck Dixon, Scott Eaton (Checker, 2007)

Sigil: Death Match is the penultimate collected volume of the CrossGen series Sigil. It's not the penultimate part that's so difficult as much as it being the fifth volume. This is one of those instances where the recaps of previous issues not only help, but provide a working foundation for accessing the story. Otherwise, I don't know if anyone could jump in and know what's happening by the third chapter.

With a premise that's a bit of Superman mixed with Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda television show, Sigil is a space opera with a militaristic bent that centers on the struggle between the five human worlds of the Planetary Union and the empire of the lizard-like Saurians. The primary character, Sam (or Samandahl Rey), was granted godlike powers when a sigil (hence the book's name) appeared on his chest. He journeys on the spaceship Bitterluck with an interesting crew: Roiya, a living hologram whose physical body is held in stasis; JeMerik, a charming rogue (think Han Solo, but not as the pilot); and Zanniati, a foreign dignitary and Sam's love interest.

In Death Match, Sam takes this volume's title literally and has a final battle with his longtime rival Khyradon, who has been given godlike powers from his goddess. Perhaps this "final" battle has more dramatic tension and fulfillment for those that have read Sigil's previous four volumes; however, to this first-time reader, it wasn't an intriguing fight (most of it occurs off-panel) and the posturing grows tedious.

Actually, this book is more interesting when the main hero isn't around. Check out the more intriguing latter chapters in which the Sam-free Bitterluck and its crew crash-land on an uncharted planet that is wholly inhabited by carnivores ... and they're hungry. The situation quickly degenerates into an intense mixture of the movie Pitch Black with a bit of James Cameron's Aliens.

While Sigil: Death Match is a delight to look at -- Scott Eaton's art is downright superb -- the story is staunchly fair-to-middling. It's not one of those stories that will grab your attention and make you want to purchase the previous volumes, nor will it have you looking for Vol. 6. Unless you've already started reading this story and have completist tendencies, Death Match is something to look at in a bookstore but is not worth putting on your bookshelf.

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

2 February 2008

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