In Review: Dark Ark #14

This book is always a dark pleasure to read.

The cover: Khalee, Orin, and Janris accompany Kruul and and a flying monster into the forest of their new home. Unfortunately the land they’ve discovered is populated by those who have killed members of their family and kidnapped others. Great tease of what is in this issue, without spoiling anything. The point of view is also good since it reveals that they’re standing on a swath of land covered in bones. I like the coloring on this, too, with the colors being stronger on Kruul and lighter on the human in the front of the group, suggesting that she’s about to go into an area that’s more sick than where they currently are. Great cover by Juan Doe, but when haven’t his covers been great? Overall grade: A

The story: Those not killed in the raid the previous evening have been taken prisoner. They are being marched to an unknown location by their captors. The vampire Nex asks Shrae, who is next to him, “What do they want from us? Why did they attack us? What have they taken us prisoner?” Without looking from the path, the former captain of the Dark Ark replies, “They should not be here. The Lord flooded the world. He destroyed everything. Only Noah’s ark…and mine…survived. And yet here they are. It is as if they are protecting the island. It is as if they have been here for a long time.” Before he continues his thoughts, a scream behind Shrae has him looking at his daughter-in-law Selah who who has been pulled out of line. Nex tells the human he could do something if he still had his powers and Shrae whispers back, “I still have tricks.” As they make their way to pyramid-like structures they walk through a forest with wings impaled high up on branches. They are angel wings which serve as trophies. As warnings. Shrae discovers a circular disc on the ground and is surprised at what he believes it to be. Meanwhile aboard the Dark Ark, those creatures which survived the slaughter wonder how they’ll survive a second night. Outside the ark, Kruul mourns the death of his wife and the kidnapping of his child. He’s greeted by a character that wants to accompany the beast to strike back. The human characters on board are then focused on, with a welcome reunion between two characters. This leads to seven characters in search of those that have done them harm. The dialogue among them is excellent, with every utterance from Kruul awesome. Pages 18 and 19 have this group discovering something, taking action, and then ending the book with a very surprising reveal. Writer Cullen Bunn keeps the pacing of this book dramatic, surprising, and (with the final page) shocking. This book is always a dark pleasure to read. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: Juan Doe is the artist that fills this book with hopeful and nightmarish imagery. The opening panel shows the reader the creatures that have taken the book’s characters hostage. The progression of the hostages through the forest is shown in the panels that follow, with Nex and Shrae standing out due to the coloring that separates them from the other monsters. Having Shrae’s beard colored green in the opening pages makes him seem as though he belongs with the devil’s beasts he was supposed to protect. Nex stands out due to his eyes and clothing’s collar being a sinister red. The wings that decorate the victims’ journey are incredibly radiant, suiting their origin beautifully. The partial double-paged spread on 6 and 7 is fantastic for what litters the ground. I like how these objects earn stares from the captives as they get closer to their destination. I also like the round object Shrae discovers is also radiant, giving credence to his guess, even after what ultimately happens to the object. The three survivors of the previous night are a ghoulish green, which makes the splatters of orange on their families and friends leap off the page. This orange is also used for Kruul’s mate, showing the reader what’s befallen her. The scowl on Kruul is enough to terrify any reader and foreshadow that his anger can only be sated in one way. The faded blues and violets on Pages 12 – 14 create a dark setting without hiding anything, and that’s the key verb because someone has been hiding to spare themselves from the carnage. The smile that tops 14 is the only grin of the issue and it’s heartfelt, given all the death and evil that’s been shown. The flying monster that joins the survivors on 16 is the strangest of designs. It’s simple to discern, but had me constantly wondering what the creature’s abilities were, and I was answered before the issue ended. The reveal on 18 is great; I was so happy that Doe gave this the largest panel on the page because the reader needs to see what blaspheme is occurring. Notice how one character deals with the youngest member of the group in the second panel: it’s honest and seems unnecessary, given the voyage that these characters have been on for forty days and forty nights. The action on 19 is outstanding. There needed to be some payback after the previous issue and I was glad to see it. The final panel of the page is a shocker because that character has never been shown with that emotion before. It’s the perfect tease to 20 which is a full-paged splash. Nothing is explained as someone does something new. It’s a fantastic visual revelation that will leave the reader dying to know what happens next. This page could be a turning point for the characters’ current crisis. Overall grade: A 

The letters: This issue’s letters are created by Dave Sharpe. His creations include dialogue, yells, sounds, creature speech, the flying monster’s unique dialogue, whispered dialogue, and the three word tease for next issue. The sound on Page 7 is outstanding. It’s on top of the panel that contains the action and is designed to perfectly match that action. Its size makes it explode beyond the panel’s borders. I love that the monsters have their own unique font, which act as another visual to show the reader they’re not human. The font used for the new creature that flies has it sounding especially evil. The whispered dialogue in the final panel is spoken under someone’s breath, as if they’ve witnessed horror for the first time. I must also give praise to Sharpe for the final three word teaser which looks as though it’s ancient, reminding the reader of the time period. Just excellent work. Overall grade: A

The final line: Promises were made to the monsters, but only horrors have been found. This story takes readers on the unwritten aftermath of the creatures that survived the Great Flood and makes their fate on land questionable. I love the twists in this saga, with that last page being a jaw-dropper. The visuals are wonderful horrors put on the page, with the monsters now oddly sympathetic now that they’ve come upon older, stronger creatures. This is the book I reach for first when it comes out. You should reach for a copy. Now. Recommended. 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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