The Occultist (one shot)
Dark Horse Comics
Script: Mike Richardson/Tim Seeley
Pencils: Victor Dujiniu?
26 pages for $3.50
According to the back matter, The Occultist is an attempt for Dark Horse to expand their line past the Gold Key/Valiant properties. The issue identifies itself as a one-shot, and my interpretation is that this is sort of a "Pilot Season" audition to generate interest for a potential ongoing. If that's the case, I would think that the Occultist failed.
The idea, of course, is that we see Bailey as somebody we can relate to, tap into his Campbellian Heroes Journey of "little fish thrust into scary new pond", and invest ourselves in watching him rise above the fray. The problem with that is when the formula is so utterly well trodden and transparent, its difficult to fall prey to the intrigue of it.
I think the book could still work if there were anything to like about Mr. Bailey, or anything fresh in the execution of the plot. The boogeyman Aiden Beck is an Evil Grant Morrison, which was entertaining visually for a few panels, but there was nothing the character said or did that justified any continued fascination. The "Crows" weren't strictly ciphers, but they weren't particularly compelling, either. They gathered my interest only when one of them did a spot on Vlad impersonation and said "Hrrrm. Bad." But of course all that really served to do was remind me that I would rather be reading Hack Slash.
No, the villains aren't great, you'll loathe the "hero" of the story, which means that the only place left to find any intrigue is with the book's unique mythos regarding "The Sword". I don't believe that works very well, either. I don't see how that mystery can have any draw unless you care about the people involved, or unless you do something like "The Da Vinci Code" and twist something familiar if not iconic.
I don't see where that interest would come from. Bailey dispatches the Crow lackeys with a blast of mystical energy that he had nothing at all to do with. Surely the plan is to get Rob more deeply ingrained in the "Sword" culture, and maybe someday there's something to the character. But as it stands, he's a walking annoyance with the ability to make all his troubles go away with a subconscious whisk of his hand via his internal Deus Ex Machina. Hard to imagine how it could get more boring than that.
If you want your Seeley fix, I highly recommend Hack Slash or Colt Noble. I'm taking a pass on any further adventures of The Occultist.