In Review: Dark Ark #11

What do you need? A sign from above? This is the horror you're looking for.

The covers: A twosome to find if the sun shines upon you. The A cover is by interior artist and colorist Juan Doe. This is an image split down the middle, combining the left side of the cover of Issue #6 and the right side of Issue #1, to show both arks that carry the world’s survivors. The split between them is a golden light which shines onto both images. A neat way to show the contrasting tones of each vessel. The B by Mike Rooth has a humanoid winged creature, colored red and white, using its talons to escape a giant size beast with the hairy body of a Yeti, but the head of an eagle. Neither of these characters appear in this issue, but they look cool enough for me to want to see them appear. Overall grades: A B+ and B B

The story: The rain has stopped. The clouds are parting to reveal a golden sky. A dove is carrying an olive branch on its fateful journey. Unfortunately an arrow streaks out of the sky striking the bird, causing it to fall dead into the sea, not fulfilling its task. Cullen Bunn then turns his attention to the Dark Ark where the creatures within are unhappy. “Do you not miss the storm? Do you not miss the rain? I long for the clouds! I want them to obscure the accursed sun once more! The world that waits is ugly! Cruel! This is not the world we were promised! The world that waits is no paradise! It is punishment! The sorcerer has tricked us! Shrae ferries us to hell!” The master of the vessel is then shown, alone at a table. He touches the side of his neck and finds two fresh cuts bleeding. Before he can consider when he got the punctures he’s called by his young daughter Rea. Her mother, his wife, is “acting strangely.” What is happening to her unfortunately cannot be stopped. There are dual dangers occurring on the ship as well, with two pregnancies causing unrest in two very unlike quarters. The reveal on 7 is fantastic and the return of a character on 11 is deliciously dark. Page 18 is startling and frightening. Where this leaves the older character is something I’m really looking forward to seeing. The book ends as it began, though the deaths are tripled and the killers revealed. Bunn is making horror gold with this series. Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: The first three panels of this book look Biblical with the parting of the clouds, the sun, and the iconic bird in flight carrying its important flora. They make the fourth panel all the more terrible when shown in a strong blood orange. When the arrow strikes the bird it horrifies the reader, because this is not the way the story goes. The small panel that shows the bird is indeed dead drowns the reader’s hopes. Juan Doe is the perfect artist for this book. The opening three panels of the second page spin from the front of the ship to the deck before going into the creatures’ quarters and the beasts look monstrous. There’s no rhyme or reason to their construction and that’s the brilliance in their design because they are frights. The final panel on Page 2 shows Shrae alone at a table that holds four lit candles. His countenance is as frightening as the creatures. The discovery of the punctures on his neck is told without text, leaving the reader to wonder, with the character, what happened. Ada’s face on the fourth page amplifies her words and clearly communicates what ails her. Page 6 contains a pair of arrivals, with 7 showing one of them up close. Coloring is a necessary tip off to further the story. Shrae’s close-up on 8 is fantastic and speaks volumes without any text. The return of crimson on 10 is outstanding foreshadowing for the return on 11. I like how the reds and blacks of this individual really stand out against the sickly yellows. The neon greens on 13 that show the ark’s ceiling are a great visual addition to the reds and yellows on the page. The reds in the large panel on 15 are killer, and that’s not a pun. I can’t recall seeing anything in earlier issues that frightened Shrae, but something occurs that makes his eyes go wide in shock on 18. The change in a character’s shape and color on 19 is fantastic, as are the yellows that appear on another in the penultimate panel. The design of the characters that appear on the final page are a new level of monstrous even for this series. Doe is doing the devil’s work well. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Ryane Hill creates sounds, monsters’ speech, dialogue, whispered dialogue, and the three word tease for next issue. The sounds on this issue are, as always, awesome, with the opening and closing pages’ noises devastating. I love that the deformed creatures aboard the Dark Ark have a font that visually furthers them from “normal” speaking characters. It’s a little thing, but is much appreciated. The final three words of the issue are often throw aways in comics, but this trio is like a deviant scrawl that tells the reader that though the rain has ended the horrors have not. Overall grade: A+

The final line: What do you need? A sign from above? This is the horror you’re looking for. Monster and man have new blood, but both look to be damned as the voyage inches closer to its dark end. Great story and visuals make monsters truly terrible. Highest possible recommendation. 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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