Irel, Lamia and Clarion fight off assassins, but soon after, Lamia takes off on her own. Irel and Clarion continue to follow the chrism bottle trail, which leads them to the secret society Crossline. Irel’s power grows and it’s enough to get Crossline agents to question their leader, Ian. Lamia goes to an “old friend” and learns the truth of her origins, and it’s relation to Ian, Crossline, and Christianity. Detective Chris and Grace also find Crossline, and, joined by Chris’ partner Aileen, are recruited to try to stop Crossline’s plans.
There is plenty of confusing “zombie battle action”™, but an actual plot does start to show itself in these 5 volumes of Raiders. Lamia’s past is revealed, as is the reason for Chris’ obsession with conspiracies, and most startlingly, the true origins of Christianity, and how it relates to the secret organization, Crossline. I can’t say that I really enjoyed these volumes, but I was fascinated with the way the history/mythology/beliefs of the Christian church was used in the story as well as its references to the use of science.
After three volumes of mostly zombie battles/nomming, it was nice to see some actual plot and character development finally show up. Lamia’s past is typically tragic, but it isn’t one of a monster as she’d been led to believe. while she had already started down the path of being a sympathetic character, the revelations of her past and origins definitely turn her into a protagonist. A lot about Chris is revealed too, as he doggedly pursues the Crossline connection. His obsession with outrageous cases, and his “smoking” habit is explained, and the hair covering his right eye? Not just a fashion statement. Grace even starts to show some growth. Through most of these volumes, she the helpless puppy that Chris has to keep alive, but meeting her father’s killer does bring out her determination, but by volume 7 it really feels misplaced.
The story that finally starts to evolve in these volumes focuses heavily on Christianity. Not just the miraculous powers of Jesus Christ’s blood, but on the whole origin of the religion, the bible, and even the identity of Jesus himself. I found the direction Park took in dealing with these elements intriguing, especially the portrayal of the use of religion as originally for good, but gradually turned into a use for domination and control. There is also a touch of eastern thought as a balance of good and evil, darkness and light seems to be necessary for the transformation to becoming a god to be complete. There also seems to be a scientific aspect to the transformation, that it wasn’t done through miracles, or a superior being, but as a form of evolution. Irel’s power seems to evolve as he fights the zombies and Crossline agents, going from merely healing to transporting himself. The creation of zombies as well, are implied to be from science, and not “God’s Judgement”.
My original feelings about Raiders have softened over these 5 volumes as it transformed from a typical zombie story to having an actual plot. I don’t hate it like I did with the first volume, but I’m not in love with it either. The art still has some rough patches, though it has definitely improved, and the action sequences can still be hard to follow. But I do have to admit an interest in the growing setup of Irel vs Ian. It can already be seen in the difference in their transporting, and their attitudes towards others. Raiders isn’t a stellar read, but it does move fairly quickly. I burned through these 5 volumes in just a few days. If you can accept an alternate explanation to the origins of Christianity and have the patience to go 4 volumes before there is any real plot or character development, then give this series a look over.