Rating: 4/5 – The Flipside to Noah’s Ark…It’s Eeeevil!
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall
Most people know the story of Noah’s ark (which I’ll paraphrase and I am admittedly NOT a Bible scholar). God decided to destroy the world with a flood to destroy wickedness but tasked Noah build an ark and save two of all the natural creatures so they can ride out the flood and start the world anew. The high concept of Dark Ark is “What if the Devil also tasked someone to build and ark and save all the unnatural creatures?” Creatures like vampires, harpies, maticore, unicorns, dragons, etc.
That’s the story writer Cullen Bunn and artist Juan Does are telling here, the tale of the “Evil Ark” shepherded by an evil sorcerer, Shrae, and his family (as opposed to by the pious Noah). Bunn’s story contains infighting and conflict among the evil creatures that would pretty much be in their nature and he throws in a few twists and turns along the way, including a cliffhanger mystery that caps off the issue, hopefully getting readers to come back for more. Doe’s art is blocky and angular, a good match for the ‘evil’ portrayed, including his use of blacks. The color palette (Doe doing his own colors, I assume as there is no colorist in the credits) is heavy on reds, greens, and purples, another good match for the ‘evil’ characters being portrayed, and certainly helping to establish the mood of the story. Nothing about this book felt cheerful to me.
At 20 pages, Dark Ark #1 felt short, I was left at the end thinking “Is that all there is?” and flipping the page to see if I had missed a few pages of story (alas, no, but there was a 5 page preview of Fu Jitsu, out next week from AfterShock that intrigued me). Bunn set up the premise, introduced characters, and a few potential points of conflict to play off of in future issues, but nothing that I drew a strong attachment to. This is a problem I have with stories that focus on characters that are ostensibly the bad guys: I tend not to identify with bad guys and I personally have a hard time being drawn into a story where I can’t relate to or root for any of the characters. For instance, one of the main characters in this issue was a Manticore named Kruul, not someone I gravitated towards, though there is potential for the evil sorcerer’s daughter Khalee to be that ‘touchpoint’ character for me, but the connection didn’t click for me in this issue, another reason that a few more pages could have been valuable. Ultimately I’m going to give this another issue or two to see if the story and characters can connect with me. That said, the exact point that failed to grab me (not having a good character to relate to) could be the one that is a compelling plus to another reader.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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