Cover of Darkness Volume 1 (Michail & Cam/ Hiblen): Why are we so quick to judge vampires? As undead go, they’re intelligent and feel well enough to brood at peak goth levels. They understand an engaged in commerce, advise people from all walks of life, it’s simply not fair. Vampire classic over here might just be offering to do the woodcutting for the nice lady – with his inhuman strength, he’d almost definitely fell trees more effectively and give the lady a chance to think about the life choices which brought her to a forest at night. I mean, I could understand if there were a modern vampire story featuring polite vampires AND trigger revulsion in certain circles, but I can’t think of one. [7/10]
Millenia ago, King Rameses was betrayed and murdered by his advisors for crippling Egypt and pressganging his subjects into building a temple to Ra. Over a millennium ago, the state genius engineer of Atlantis struggled over restoring the more capable king (deceased) to the throne. Two hundred years ago, the demon of Transylvania made a deal with a man named Vladimir. The consequences of these actions piled up a mountain of dead bodies. There couldn’t be a common element at play with these three, could there? Nope, but they’ve got something in common now: a caravan of Romani that’ve already suffered physical and emotional abuse, the loss of their beefiest hunters, and all before the monsters got involved. The youngest girl of this group has “special blood”, special enough that hungry werewolves abandon perfectly edible corpses and weakened changelings once they secure the girl. One monster wins her first, but others shall follow, more than anybody may imagine.
In this comic, there’re a lot of corpses, some of them you’ll have gotten to know a bit, and unless otherwise specified, those people are dead. The living-impaired or otherwise not human waste no time in identifying themselves, and the same goes to setting themselves apart from Universal’s talkies of terror. This being a book with so many undead, let’s take a moment to appreciate that sweet irony. What plays out is a Universal Monsters’ mash-up on par with the Avengers as far as players, and I’d be giddy if by the end there’s a battle royale in that scale. Speaking of scale, the majority of the story keeps things intimate, with the exception of one abomination’s city falling. In this sense, the story carries the same atmosphere as Dracula vs. King Arthur, only with more than one monster and the absence of a reasonable chance for humanity. If someone’s got a brilliant idea up their sleeves, they’re keeping it to themselves.
The character designs lift plenty from the original films, but also move on from them in various ways, which modernizes the look and adds a bit of life to them. The baseline humans benefit as well, each receiving attention to detail on a Game of Thrones level of realism. Where the art falls flat is consistency, mostly toward anatomy and perspective. When the panels are good, they’re pretty good, and when they’re not, you’ll know right away. The visuals succeed in telling the story – each panel’s purpose and reading order work fine – but there are peaks and valleys.
Cover of Darkness reads like a director’s second film – the creators are comfortable enough to have fun with their project and have potential, they’ve just got a lot to learn still.
Looking for earlier blogs by Ryan Walsh for Comic Carnival? They’re here: Variant Coverage Blog Back Issues