Dark Souls: Tales of Ember #1 did not tickle my fancy. It felt disjointed and odd, and didn’t make much sense. Lets see how issue 2 holds up.
Writer: George Mann, Tauriq Moosa
Artist: Alan Quah, Michael Walsh, Daniel Serra, Damien Worm, Caspar Wijngaard
Publisher: Titan Comics
This issue? This is different.
The format stays the same: small stories with little to no connection outside of setting between them. This was very confusing in the first issue, as there was an attempt to frame them in a wider tale that fell very flat.
These stories are far more interesting, and far more entertaining in the telling. A short tale on the human spirit and its never say die attitude starts this book–and while very brief, it’s well laid out. The third tale, “Shattered Mirror,” is similar. A solid tale, slightly tongue in cheek for those familiar with the Dark Souls multiplayer world. Nothing confusing and well portrayed.
Tales 2 and 4 though? That’s the real beauty.
The setting of Dark Souls is more than just medieval swords and sorcery; it’s truly horror underneath it all. Horror at the destruction of the world, at our own mortality, at curses and at the vile things the protagonists have to fight to win in this depraved land.
Story 2, “Behold Townsfolk,” is EXCELLENT. This could easily stand alone as a short story, with no tie-in or need for artwork. It’s plotted perfectly, and even though you see something ominous coming, you don’t expect this ending at all. Hats off to George Mann for writing this beautiful tale that truly made me pause. Having said all this about the story, the artwork is excellent too. One of the downfalls of issue one was the sketched and hard to follow scenes, and this feels like an old friend; the right amount of suspense, and yet excellent technical detail. Bravo.
Story 4, “Pound of Flesh,” reminds me of a Stephen King short story in one of his collections. Not any particular one, but that type of vibe. A slow horror build with intense consequences for the people in the story.
Contrast that with a very active battle scene depicted in the art, and telling you of the eventual fate of our narrator, and this is a beautiful foreshadowed story, with the result being visually presented. What a great juxtaposition to close out the book, and how well this chilling tale of childhood and bad parents and sacrifice contrasts with a Knight in armor, fighting for his life.
Welcome back, Dark Souls comics. This one was done right.