In Review: Dark Ark #15

Just when you think this series has been worked into a corner, it turns on you and rips out your heart.

The cover: The final cover for this series has Shrae standing over the bodies of his dead family, their blood splattered all over him. Behind him is the devil, who neither looks happy or sad, but monstrous, fearsome, and indifferent as he looks upon his servant’s pain. Great image by Juan Doe that sums up the protagonist’s greatest fear. The colors are also strong, with the yellow around the devil drawing the eye. Also getting attention are the reds used for the dark one’s muscles. The splatter of blood on Shrae and the shock on is face are great. An excellent cover. Overall grade: A+ 

The story: Over a cauldron filled with a disgusting looking liquid, blood splatters into it. A voice within says, “You understand what this means? What we are giving you…and what you are giving us.” Khalee says she does and her eyes go pure ebony. “And so, it is done…O, Khalee.” This ominous moment from the past then moves to the present where Khalee is interrogating one of the captured creatures that’s been killing the monsters from the landed Dark Ark. It fearfully says, “We thought that you were gone. That there were no more of you left.” Behind Khalee her sister and brother wonder what’s become of their sibling. This powered up daughter then asks why it and its brethren were draining others of blood. Writer Cullen Bunn has planted enough clues in this dialogue for an observant reader to figure out what’s going on. If not, a turn of the page reveals who these creatures are and why they have been killing the monsters. Something is asked at the bottom of Page 6 and the tension builds for the next three pages until the violent climax of this series begins. There’s a terrific moment during the bloodbath on 13 that has a surprise on 14. A recurring character in this series appears on 15, again the worse for wear, though it seems this may be the end at last for this lost soul. Pages 16 and 17 are absolutely brutal. If you think the monsters have been horrific in this series, Bunn has saved the true monster for this finale. The last two pages show the new order and the new direction for the survivors. Wow! Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: Juan Doe ends this series with some spectacular imagery. The opening pages of Khalee making her blood offering is brutal, with just enough red on those deliciously ghastly greens! Her reaction in the final panel when her offering has been accepted shows that she was not prepared for what’s done to her. I love the back and forth between her and the creature on 2 and 3. Especially how she’s shocked in the final panel on the second page. And the colors magnify the moment, with the background in orange — as if this was going to be the twilight moment for someone. The partial double-paged splash on 4 and 5 is a Biblical nightmare realized; I love the number of characters and the coloring makes it apocalyptic. Notice that the colors brighten on 8 and 9 at the new location, as if there is some chance of hope, but the bottom six panels return to the ghastly greens from the opening and reader realizes, before the characters, that Hell is soon to be unleashed. The action on 10 is outstanding, the small panel on 12 great, and I love the six diagonal panels at the bottom that accentuate the fury of what’s occurring. The final figure on 14 is stellar: what a monster! That makes the actions on 15 even stronger, with the colors, again, increasing the horror. I love that the demand that ends Page 16 is not obeyed. Pages 16 and 17 are just visually wrenching; they are not graphic, but given all that the characters have been through, to see them in this much pain is unbearable. The final panel on 17 is a stunner. Notice the color changes in a person’s hair on 19 — the transformation is complete. Notice also how the background has gone brown — it’s no longer twilight, it’s the night. Doe is an exceptional artist. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, supernatural speech, dialogue, and whispered creature speech are brought to life by Dave Sharpe. The scene settings resemble horrific yells that create a forbidding tone each time they appear. The same font is also used for the final word of this series and it’s absolutely appropriate. The supernatural speech of several characters wavers slightly, as if created frantically, giving the speakers an instantly inhuman tone. The dialogue is easy to read in this book, while the whispered speech of the creatures of the island is frighteningly opposite of their exteriors. However, once their backstory is revealed, it becomes painfully apparent why they speak in such a way. The design of their speech adds to their unnatural natures. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Just when you think this series has been worked into a corner, it turns on you and rips out your heart. Great twists, outstanding emotional moments, and one hell of a finale. The visuals are stunning with so much hope becoming horror with its images and colors. Even the letters create monstrosities on the page. Dark Ark was quite the ride. Is it too early to ask for a hardcover collection? 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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