In Review: Dark Ark: After the Flood #1

Truly, this is a comic to be thankful for.

The covers: Four to find as this dark series continues. The Regular cover is by series interior artist and colorist Juan Doe. In the foreground is the main protagonist Khalee. Her eyes have gone white ad her hair flies up. Looming behind her angrily is her father Shrae, the captain of the Dark Ark, whom she killed at the end of the previous series. He is colored in reds and oranges making him an angry entity. This is image demonstrates the past and the present to the reader. Well done! Mike Rooth has created a lenticular Variant cover that features both arks, depending on how one looks at the cover. The reader may look at the pastoral image of Noah’s ark pulling into the beach of a serene island complete with palm trees as a dove carrying an olive branch flies forward. One may also see the Dark Ark plowing into the beach as a harpy flies forward to spread terror. Great idea for a cover that’s carried out well with this motion technique. The NYCC Exclusive Variant cover by Nat Jones features a trio of beautiful sirens sitting on a rock in a green sea that’s churning. The creatures have the torsos of young women with beautiful violet hair, while from the waist down they have blue-green tails or tentacles. This is a neat tease of key plot point in this issue. The final cover is the Baltimore Comic Con Exclusive Variant cover by Leila Liez with Edgy Ziane. This is an extremely powerful cover featuring Khalee standing with a wicked blade in her left hand and her right held up as she creates flame around it. She’s standing before the Dark Ark which has lodged into a beach. The water before and around her is steaming, with flames actually bursting from the water in some places. This is a heavily red cover with yellow and green highlights to make it explosive. If this is Khalee’s future, I don’t know how humanity will survive. Overall grades: Regular A+, Lenticular Variant A, NYCC Exclusive Variant A+, and Baltimore Comic Con Exclusive Variant A+

The story: This issue begins in the past as Shrae and four other men walk in the desert to gaze upon a distant city. Only another removes his hood as the sand from the dunes sweeps over them. The tattooed man named Aris asks Shrae why they are at this place. He responds that their Dark Lords told them to come to city of Gohorth, but even he does not know why. This is when a figure walks towards them. It is an animated corpse who deems the sorcerers destroy the city, “It is an abomination. For that reason, Gohorth must be destroyed. And every person who dwells there must be exterminated.” Writer Cullen Bunn then moves his story to the present where Janris and Orin are helping the other surviving humans tear the Dark Ark apart to use the wood to build homes. Orin complains that they should just live inside the ark, but Janris says, “Maybe you don’t remember, Orin…but some of us were held prisoner on that ship…and we don’t relish the idea of staying on it any longer than we must.” He apologizes and the happy couple go off, hand in hand, to continue their work. They fail to notice a familiar character who is no longer in a familiar form glancing out of the ominous vessel to look upon her offspring. Deep within the ship the new leader of the surviving humans and beasts contacts the Dark Ones, who have a frightful task revealed to her at the end of Page 7. This task could take several issues to accomplish, if not the entire run of this series. The issue then goes to the past to show Shrae and his cohorts doing what is demanded of them, with a surprising result. Khalee asks three individuals to help her in her task, with her then coming across a familiar face and his offspring, with the larger character voicing concerns that will have to be addressed in future issues. This installment ends with Khalee going to a locale that has some history as well as the spirit of someone she must speak with. I holy trust — or is that unholy trust? — Bunn to keep the drama and blaspheme rolling in each future issue. Outstanding! Overall grade: A+

The art and colors: This issue begins like an evil Lawrence of Arabia, as after the establishing shot of the doomed city of Gohorth is shown, Juan Doe shows the five evil men walking out of the desert and into the reader’s face. Shrae is the first to reveal himself, giving him importance, and is followed by Aris, whose tattooed visage makes him a fright. Notice how Shrae’s hair is colored green; this will be an important color soon. The arrival of the dead speaker is excellently done, with its arrival having no text. It commands the men like a grotesque puppet, its mouth a frozen smile of death. The tearing apart of the Dark Ark was a surprise to see and I’m glad it got a large panel to show it occurring. Janris and Orin look like the perfect couple as they discuss horrible things. The transition between them and the top of Page 6 is great. The final three panels on the same page are a unique retelling of the previous series. I like that Khalee communicates with the evil ones in the same manner her father did and that when she does so a sickly green dominates the dialogue. I love that her dialogue balloons are colored black to show what her soul has become. The green continues onto the next page that shows Shrae using his abilities. Even after he is done with his terrible work, these greens dominate the sky around him, giving him a tainted feel. The blues used for the night sequences are great with faded red hair on the supernatural characters having them stand out. I love the design of the trio on 12 and I’m looking forward to seeing what Doe will do with them in the future. A familiar character returns on 13 – 16 and he is as menacing as ever. I like that when his dialogue takes a turn on 15, Doe pulls in closer to him. The last two panels on 16 made me laugh. The sky behind Shrae clears at the bottom of 17 when a new character is focused on. Very clever. Notice how the colors change for the setting revealed at the top of 19, denoting that this is a very different environment. The last page is a full-paged splash that shows a character’s entrance and it’s as spectacular as I’d hoped it be. A reader cannot go wrong with visuals by Doe. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dave Sharpe creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, damned speech, sounds, dialogue for the Dark Ones, the unique font for a supernatural trio, and the unique font for a familiar character. The scene settings are dramatic in thick font whose letters are uneven next to one another, as if they were a scream against reality. The unique fonts used for characters’ dialogue makes each individual sound different from the other, as the dead and the different species of monstrosities would sound when compared to humans. It’s a little touch that I am in love with. There are several sounds that increase the power of several actions, with RUMMMMMMMBLLLLE-BOOM! fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The saga continues as the Dark Ark has successfully come ashore. What the humans and the monsters do next is going to be a new Hell on Earth and I can’t wait to see how it goes. Bunn continues to create shivers as well as heartbreak, while Doe makes the valiant and damned incredible. Sharpe has every character sound unique and gives birth to sounds that will shake the heavens. Truly, this is a comic to thankful for as Hell resumes its work. 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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