For the second time in a single month Dark Horse comics has upset me. The jerks produce a fine comic only to have it end at 4 issues without any warning! Now I’m stuck with another final issue when I wasn’t even prepared for it.
Is it good?
Dark Ages #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
One of the reasons stories stick with you is because they capture your imagination and make it go wild. Usually this doesn’t happen because the media you’re taking in tries to explain it all to you leaving nothing to the imagination. Not so with writer Dan Abnett’s Dark Ages, because there’s plenty of myth, science fiction and story elements left on the edges of the page to allow the reader to bleed it in themselves. The story opened with a band of knights of sorts who are attacked by dinosaur looking aliens. They find refuge in a monastery only to find out this is the exact place the aliens want to go for a variety of reasons. A flashback in the last issue revealed these men stumbled on an ancient alien race that’s been trying to save humanity for centuries. Will they save it, because the Dark Ages are nigh?
He’s not learneded — say it again!
For a final issue you wouldn’t know it if it didn’t actually say, “the end” on the last page. That’s because things are left a bit open ended, but also because the character journey doesn’t feel quite complete. I’m still on the fence if that’s a good thing, but I can safely say it drives you wild wanting to know what happens next. Consider how many comics do the same thing and you could care less what happens and that right there is proof it’s a good read.
This issue is mostly the climactic battle of man versus alien all led by a man who has bonded with a machine. It’s all very clever, original and compelling to read. What drives the story though is the characters themselves, who must stop at nothing to fight these aliens off or die trying. They are written in such a way to be considered real and you root for them because the stakes are easily understood and their survival requiring a hard fought fight. You’re right there with them all the way to the end and that’s a rare thing.
Bring the boom!
The art by I. N. J. Culbard does these characters justice as well and it’s very expressive. Their frustrations, their drive, it’s all there in their faces and Culbard does a great job conveying the sheer madness one must feel when they see a red 8 foot tall elk horned alien coming at you with a mace. I also enjoy how he’s made these creatures look so indifferent. They could really care less if they win or lose, which makes them all the more frightening.
Is It Good?
This is a fine conclusion to what was a very surprising and captivating read; Dark Ages was a well-paced and well plotted action adventure filled to the brim with original ideas.