Forty Days and Forty Demons … Dark Ark #1
If you are like me you come home from the Local Comic Shop with your little stack of comics, find your comfy chair and quickly sort the books. Must-read comics on top, your regulars in the middle. And that small selection of books that you are buying but you are not sure why always ends up on the bottom. My friends and I are always referring to “top of the pile” books. Over the past year and a bit one company has consistently been putting out “top of the pile” comics and that is Aftershock. For a new comic company, they are publishing some serious quality reads.
I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Pestilence (see my review here for the details) so when I saw a solicitation for Dark Ark, also from Aftershock I figured it was a definite book to try out. Boy, was I not disappointed. We all know the tale of Noah. God had decided to cleanse the Earth of sinners and would flood the lands for 40 days and 40 nights. But before doing so God approached a man named Noah. He instructed Noah to build a vast ark and gather two of every animal in preparation for the Great Flood. But was Noah the only ark builder? Dark Ark writer Cullen Bunn explores the possibility that the darker powers also wanted some creatures saved. They contact the sorcerer Shrae and instruct him to build an ark as well and to fill that ark with all manner of unnatural creatures. Dragons, vampires, harpies, and the manticore are amongst the passengers on this Dark Ark.
The comic book could have easily gone off the rails with this premise but Cullen imparts a lot of character into Shrae’s family. He puts the main focus in this first issue on the sorcerer and his daughter Khalee. In one short comic, you immediately sense the depth of the characters. The introductory plot is predictable enough with the obligatory meet and greet but there are some neat threads that you sense will come into play sooner than later. The concept is executed solidly and the interplay with the sinister characters is interesting. The politics or pecking order onboard and how there is a really uneasy peace that could be broken at any time.
I’ve seen artist Juan Doe’s work elsewhere but I didn’t recall exactly where and I had to look it up. Juan worked on American Monster and Animosity, also from Aftershock but I suspect I’ve seen his work elsewhere. His style is not as feature realistic as a Jim Lee but really appealing. I totally dig the art in the Dark Ark. Colours, when scenes are deep in the Dark Ark’s hold, are primary, jarring and suitably demonic. The palette changes and becomes less in-your-face when panels feature the human characters. With a name like Juan Doe one can’t help but assume this is a pseudonym and maybe SHE is doing a great job on this comic? Ryane Hill’s lettering works just as it should, bringing a sinister vibe to the creatures but without going over the top.
Top of the pile. I can tell you right now that Issue #2 of Dark Ark will be at the top of my to-read pile next month. Issue #1 is on the shelves right now so head to your Local Comic Shop soon. Nice job Aftershock.
Issue: Dark Ark #1 | Publisher: Aftershock Comics LLC
Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Juan Doe
Letters: Ryane Hill | Editor: Mike Marts
Price: $3.99 – 32 pages