In Review: Dark Ark #1

A deliriously delicious dark tale of untold truths. Recommended reading.

The covers: I found seven different covers online. There may be more, so good luck, collectors! The A cover is by interior artist Juan Doe and seeing it in the preview ads, this was the one I had to own. An ark is plowing its way at the reader through a sinister sea as rain falls. A huge demonic head, complete with ram’s horns, is at the bow. A goodly amount of foam is created from the ship’s path, as are several tentacles that are surrounding the vessel as it makes it way. The colors are only red and black and it makes the tone wonderfully creepy. The B cover is by Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur & Mike Spicer. Shrae is sporting a white beard on this cover and holds a staff, revealing several grotesque creatures emerging from within his cloak. Bones, tentacles, spikes, claws, and crab-like appendages are coming forth into the waist deep murky water. I like everything about this, including the coloring, which uses blues and violets on the creatures. This resembles work by the late Bernie Wrightson, which is probably why I like it. The first Variant, also by Doe, has a top view of the title ship making its way from the top to the bottom of the page right through the dead center. On either side are characters in the issue, including Shrae, his family, and the “cattle” on the left side, while on the right side are all the supernatural characters. A good Who’s Who of those within. SadLemonComics has two Variants by Ben Templesmith. Shrae is in the foreground, surrounded by several supernatural creatures, which Templesmith excels at. The version with text is limited to 175 copies, while the Virgin Variant (which is the same artwork, just sans text) is limited to 100. Mike Rooth also did a Variant frontpiece, featuring a cute little dog in the ark’s hold, surrounded by every type of creature that wants to devour him. Every monster is in red, while the hapless pooch is in white. Fun and sick simultaneously! The final cover I could find is a Baltimore Comic Con Variant, again by Doe. This features the doors to the ark open, revealing a dark figure whose chest is covered in blood, surrounded by several shapes, comprised of tentacles and claws. The coloring is dark and primarily in a dead blue, but this makes the red on the character’s chest resonate to make this frightening. Overall grades: A A, B A, Doe Variant B, Templesmith Variant A, Templesmith Virgin Variant A, Rooth Variant A, and Baltimore Comic Con A-

The story: This is a fantastic premise for a series introduced fantastically by writer Cullen Bunn. A gigantic wave reveals a sunken city. A blast of lightning shows several dead bodies under the sea. This leads to a reveal of a gloriously bright ark, with elephants on the deck. A large bearded man, Noah, tells the beasts that there is nothing for them to fear. He looks up into the constant deluge and sees a large flying creature, a harpy. The creature flies to another ark, which is dark and threatening. Dezra, the beast, lands to report to the builder and captain of the vessel, Shrae, on the others. “They are afraid — pitiful. It would not take much to kill them. And we could eat on weeks on their flesh.” Shrae dismisses such things and walks off, telling his family they have to chores to do. And what chores they are! The supernatural creatures get a big chunk of this tale, discussing their fate, their human crew, and what they would be doing if given the chance. What the animals eat is shown, and it’s completely logical and absolutely creepy, especially given that Shrae’s daughter is the one that tends to them. Two of the creatures come to blows, teasing upcoming troubles, and then the story goes to the human family having dinner and how they got in such a position. This is twisted fun at its finest! Overall grade: A

The art and colors: I’ve been impressed with Juan Doe’s work on Animosity: The Rise and World Reader, books set in the present and the far future, but this book has him illustrate the past and he does an impressive job. The first page has no text whatsoever, depending on Doe to tell the story to the reader and it’s a great lead-in to the reveal of Noah and his shiny ark. Shrae is a huge man, looking as though he could tear the arms off several of the creatures in his ark, and when his backstory is revealed it becomes obvious why he’s so massive. His family looks constantly sad, burdened by the weight of what they have to do. The creatures are great, with Kruul and Maldroom being the standouts. They are traditional mythological creatures, but Doe puts his own spin on them to make them original and powerful. Kruul is a wonderful beast, whose power is on display in several panels. The creatures that put Maldroom in line are classical monsters, but are wonderfully wispy. The Dark Lord is shown and he has the expected form, but his face is terrifically insane. The colors, also by Doe, really ramp up the tension of the visuals, by making the monsters grotesque with a crazed cornucopia of colors, the blood reds menacing, and the violets and greens of the humans making them appear sickly. Doe is working his mojo well on this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ryane Hill creates dialogue, Dezra’s unique speech, unicorns’ unique speech, Maldroom’s unique speech, and Satan’s unique speech. I really enjoy characters getting their own speech font, it makes them stand out from other characters and, in the case of this book, it makes them especially supernatural. There are no sounds in this issue, as only the falling rain would create a noise, but I’m hoping that the ending of this issue implies that there will several in upcoming installments. Overall grade: A

The final line: A deliriously delicious dark tale of untold truths. Putting this many creatures in such a confined space will have disastrous implications before forty days and forty nights come to a close. Recommended reading. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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