Review: Songs for the Dead Volume 1 (Vault Comics)

Vault Comics have been going great guns in the very recent years, showcasing wonderful new talent, releasing incredible new titles and even starting up Myriad, their new Young Adult imprint. We take a look at Songs for the Dead, a story of a young Necromancer looking for her place in the world. But can this tale get people to sing its praises or is it better off buried?

Songs for the DeadPublisher: Vault Comics
Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron
Sam Beck, Andworld Design (letters)
£13.99 from ComiXology

Songs for the Dead tells the story of Bethany, an idealistic young woman who wanders the world after leaving her family home, seeking adventure and the opportunity to be a ‘hero’ while travelling as a bard. However, upon finding a request to rescue a young boy from a group of bandits, Bethany’s worldview is completely turned on its head when she discovers this boy dead and the bandits discover her secret; that she is a Necromancer with the ability to raise the dead. Now, accompanied by former bandit Elessier, Bethany begins a search to find the Covenant; a group of Necromancers coming together free from fear of persecution from the rest of the world. But as Bethany begins her search, someone else is following her, someone with more nefarious plans and powers.

Songs for the Dead Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron have penned a title which is incredibly likeable from beginning to end. The lynchpin to this is the lead characters of Bethany and Elisser, whose contradictory nature is a nice contrast and is quite enjoyable, giving Songs for the Dead a sort of Medieval Unlikely pairings comedy (think John Candy and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles). Otherwise, the story is very light and optimistic in it’s feel, even during some of the ‘darker’ moments and moves a a slow, easy going pace to help with his overall pleasantness.

However, if Songs for the Dead has one problem, it would would be it’s feeling rather short in length or compressed. This is seen in a number of ways throughout the series regarding the characters whom appear, with notions like what are the Covenant, who hired Blackwyld and the hints of Elisser’s backstory seemingly forgotten after their initial tease despite building on these ideas possibly improving the overall story. However, this problem does little to greatly impede the enjoyment of the story as it offers readers warm vibes throughout its pages.

Meanwhile, Sam Beck’s art is incredibly fitting for both the story as well as the period it is set in, with a really lovely style that looks to be a cross between Porcelain, Curia Regis and I am Hexed while it’s colour pallette is reminiscent of the Lumberjanes. Otherwise, the visuals which Beck throws into the various panels, from the architecture of the various locals to the seemingly period accurate clothing and weapons is truly beautiful. The breakout of his work however, is the rendering of the magic the various necromancers of the story wield, with striking blue and red colours used by heroes and villains respectively. This simple, primary use really help differentiate between which side is doing what, while also giving the idea of necromancy a sort of Star Wars good vs evil slant.

Songs for the Dead is not perfect by any means, but it’s still a fun, light-hearted story which looks great and gives you characters you can’t help but follow. While it does offer a somewhat heartbreaking and unexpected cliffhanger finish, it’s still enough to tempt you back for more. However, if you want to start at the beginning then it’s still definitely worth a look.