In Review: Dark Red #7

Chicago is happening with vampires inducting a new member and two new supernatural races debuting.

The cover: Chip is not having a good time. He puts his hand over his glass (of blood) to keep it spilling from all the sexual antics that are occurring around him. He is in the middle of a throng of women barely clad in every type of lace, leather, and chain. These individuals are kissing, biting, and loving one another with utter abandonment, which makes Chip look all the funnier. After all, this is every man’s dream, right? Chip isn’t every man. Fantastic cover from the enormously talented Meghan Hetrick. Overall grade: A+

The story: Stu wakes up from his sleep on a mattress on the floor to find a red headed woman wearing a lace top and a thong between his legs baring her fangs saying, “Shhhh. I want…you.” He screams for Evie who pops out from one of the coffins leaning against the walls. The woman is there to have sex with him, not drink from him. She’s turned on that he’s part of the group that killed Victor Varney and Kamille. The mood spoiled, the woman leaves, but not before asking if she can hang out with Evie later that evening. It’s then that Stu realizes he could have had a moment. This is a great introduction to where Evie and Stu are at from writer Tim Seeley. The story then moves to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where Gatito, the werewolf girl, is whining at Armisticio McCobb who got her a can of cat food from the gas and go store. She leaps up and bites the hot dog the man holds, catching his thumb. He pulls his knife to kill her but someone intervenes. The conversation that follows reestablishes the relationship with all three characters, with the one in charge just trying to do the right thing and get back to his own life. Meanwhile in Chicago, Evie and Stu’s integration into the larger vampire society takes a major upswing thanks to Ashen Black, the Centress of the Order of the Eventide. Unfortunately it appears that Voyeur Crise and Skelter Branch are thrilled with their leader’s proclamation. The protagonist, Armistico, and Gatito arrive at their destination in the West Side of Chicago to meet with Papa Beta, but things don’t go as they expected. I love the introduction of two new supernatural races and the ending is a fantastic cliffhanger. It appears that Chicago is going to be heating up soon. Overall grade: A+

The art: Everything about the artwork of Corin Howell is outstanding. I love the introduction of Stu on the first page and his realization that something is not right in the third panel. The reveal of what’s caused a tremor in the Force is revealed in the fourth panel and this could be a man’s dream come true or nightmare. Stu naturally is terrified, which he shows in the last panel on the page. The design of his assailant is great: cute with the hat, sexy with the thong, and nerdy with the glasses and freckles. The items in the room at the top of 2 is a good clue to how the vampires are living their undead lives. The final panel on 3 will elicit much humor from readers. Gatito is wonderfully sympathetic when she first appears on Page 4, until she bears her fangs in the fourth panel. Her satisfaction at eating the hot dog at the bottom of the page is great. McCobb comes across as a jerk from the get-go, as he’s always snarling and looking upset. The protagonist makes his first appearance at the top of 5 doing the right thing. Notice that he looks scrawny, but the muscle on that arm is pretty big. The second panel on 7 is great for how primitive it looks (and accurate because I’ve worked in such places) with the signage on the walls hilarious. The reveal of Ashen Black to the reader is outstanding; she is a presence! The look of shock on 10 is great and the look of awe from the crowd on 11 shows the reader how major this moment is. Page 12’s fourth panel foreshadows that there’s going to be future trouble between this pair because of their awkwardness. There’s some solid visual commentary on Chicago on the following page which sadly can be found in every city in America. The shock ending 14 makes me smile every time I see it. The characters that appear on 16 and 18 had me cheering for the introduction of new supernatural characters and their design was perfect, especially with the large reveal on the latter. The final panel of the book is awesome. It’s creepy and gross, yet I find myself pulled into the image to look at the details created by Howell. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Vampire books, and most supernatural books for that matter, are colored very darkly. It’s done to add to the atmosphere of the story, but the art is often lessened by it. Thankfully, colorist Mark Englert provides a welcome splash of color to every page he does in this book, while still keeping the horror of the situation present. The setting of the first three pages is given a sickly green for the walls to tease the decrepit condition of the setting and the state of those who inhabit it. This green allows the colors of the characters and their clothes to pop out on the page. Smart! The exterior night scenes have a smudgy blue to create darkness, rather than black which would overpower the colors of the characters. I like that the protagonist is wearing his red work shirt, making him an eye magnet in every panel he appears. Red can also be seen to denote power as it becomes brighter when Ashen Black appears. The royal violet also appears when the Centress takes center stage. The coloring of sounds during the fight punches up the battle among the motley combatants. The reveal of Papa Beta is excellent due to the light sources that illuminate him. Overall grade: A+

The letters: There’s not a lot of action in this issue, so a reader might assume that there’s not much variety from Carlos M. Mangual in this issue. They’d be dead wrong. This issue has scene settings, signage, snores, dialogue, yells, whispers, transmissions, a chant, and weakened speech. The scene settings are in a bold, tall, font that are like a shriek to the reader. The signage is hilarious for what it often contains in the new settings in Chicago. The yells are in a larger and thicker font than dialogue so the reader knows that they are being screamed. The whispers are in a smaller dialogue font, but are still easy to read. The transmissions are broadcasts done in italics so the reader knows that they’re going through an electronic device. The weakened speech that appears at the end of the book is in a wonderfully disjointed italic text to show how uneven the speaker’s words are. The lettering on this book is aces. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Chicago is happening with vampires inducting a new member and two new supernatural races debuting. The characters are delightful in their deviancy, darkness, and humor. I could read a book with these characters just sitting and talking all issue. The action is purposeful and monstrous. The visuals are striking with beauty and horrors. Colors add to the sights and thrills. The letters bring humor to the antiquated signage and power to the fights. This book is one to drink in before it decides to drink you. Fantastic! 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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