In Review: Dark Red #2

Dark Red is a gloriously deviant read. Highest possible recommendation.

The cover: Chip stands proudly and pulls open his shirt to reveal his heart has been pulled out by Kamille Magdalena Kaczmarek who proudly holds his dripping organ high. In her right hand she holds the American flag which billows out behind them. She’s only wearing a white fur coat and black panties. Oh, and blood is dripping down her face and onto her chest. This cover by Aaron Campbell captures the tone of this book undeniably well. Overall grade: A

The story: I haven’t laughed so brutally in a long time, but this story by Tim Seeley hits all the right buttons. Chip pours a bag full of pills over the corpses of fringe-vampires that attacked him last issue. This way he can torch his trailer and the “Sheriff’ll figure a bunch of opioid addicts got goofed up and burned a trailer down around themselves.” His desire to leave town surprises Kamille Magdalena Kaczmarek, the naked blonde vampire that was introduced last issue. She praises him for defending his ground. He doesn’t care if she stays in the trailer or goes with him, he has to go back to his night job to get his last paycheck. As Chip walks out the door, Kamille pulls out a cellphone and whispers into it, “He’s ready, Victor.” At a bar in town, Evie is approached again by Cam and Stu, with the results the same, though there’s an extra person in Evie’s car when she leaves. At the Buffalo Jump Gas Station, Chip meets Victor Varney, a vampire with a proposition. Victor’s dialogue is great and sets in motion what looks to be the premise of this series. I really liked the quick change in direction from one character on Page 15, with the next page taking an amazing turn. Adding to future troubles is the action on Pages 17 and 18. The last two pages are graphic and incredibly funny, with the closing dialogue getting me to laugh out loud. I can’t believe I have to wait another thirty days to see where this is going. Overall grade: A+

The art: The artwork on this book by Corin Howell is phenomenal. The first page is gorily graphic and I love how Chip is so matter of fact as he stages the fire. I also like how Kamille casually dresses as he sets things up. The third page has a sensational bit of visual innuendo that is quickly followed by a fantastic gag that ends it. I love that Kamille has something taken from her at the top of Page 4 that shows it’s not for her to touch. The location that Evie is at looks great, with its exterior as neat as its interior. Cam and Stu’s reintroduction has the two creating groans in the reader as well as Evie. I love the point of view at the top of 7, foreshadowing the individual in her car. The motion in the third panel on Page 9 is fun and the panel that follows shows how something has effected everyone. Kamille’s final appearance is fantastic and I hope that more of her is shown in upcoming issues. Victor is like a clean cut version of Chip and he mirrors the young movers and shakers of America. I love how Victor moves around the store, gesticulating and getting close up with the customers. When he lays his hand on Chip I winced. I love Chip at the bottom of 13. The reveal at the bottom of Page 15 is a great tease of what’s to come. Every panel on 16 is outstanding; I love the close-ups and the change in both characters’ demeanor. I love the reveal on 18 and the insane look of the individual in the final panel. The destruction on the penultimate page is sick and funny, while the full-paged splash on 20 that ends the book is spectacular. It’s gross, funny, jaw-dropping (pun intended), and just flat out awesome. Coupled with the dialogue, it’s my favorite page out of any comic this week. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Mark Englert is also a strong contributor to this issue. The blood of the dead vampires is an eye magnet on the opening page against the drab interior colors of Chip’s trailer. Kamille’s skin is a pasty white, visually telling the reader what she is before she reveals her background on the second page. The bright light on her phone looks realistic when she calls Victor. The interiors where Evie is introduced are perfectly orange, giving the establishment an unhealthy color. I like that the final character on 7 has red dialogue as well as a red ring around his dialogue balloon. The interiors of the Buffalo Station Gas Jump are an antiseptic green that make the employees’ orange shirts pop. Victor’s blonde hair and brown slacks and jacket instantly paints him as a successful looking character. I am in love with the panels that have harsh orange backgrounds when something dramatic is said. I also love when the vampires’ eyes go yellow and crimson — a good calling card to the reader that trouble is about to begin. I love the hash reds in the last panel on 16. The yellow, purple, and red that end the book are fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The letters: One cannot overlook Marshall Dillon’s work in this issue either. He does a smashing job. Dialogue, sounds, vampire speech, scene settings, a scream, yells, and the tease for next issue are his creations. The third page’s PLONK is a hilarious exclamation point on a funny action. I like that certain words in dialogue are given a thick font and placed in italics to show where the character is placing stress in their speech; makes what they say much more natural. The scene settings are done in a hasty scrawl, as though they’re carved out in warning. The scream, yell, and sounds on 18 are outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Dark Red is a gloriously deviant read. I love Chip’s desire to stay under the radar of everyone, willing to move away from trouble to keep himself safe. And his desire to keep innocents safe instantly makes him likable. The citizens of Fall’s End are wholly believable and have me wanting to see more of this location. The visuals are great, going easily from horrors to heartfelt moments. The final page is the best page out of any book this week. This is one hell of a horror book. 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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