Dark Fang is like a train wreck. I don’t particularly enjoy it, or find it mentally stimulating in any way, but I can’t stop reading, no matter how hard I try. The basic premise of a centuries-old underwater vampire queen who becomes a eco terrorist AND funds her terrorism with the money she makes camgirling is like something from a particularly bad late series episode of Supernatural. The art resembles that of an art student’s webcomic, and the writing isn’t anything to write home about either. Despite all that, there’s something there that keeps me reading. If that’s a testament to my innermost poor taste, then I guess so be it.
This is the final issue in the first arc of the series, which I was sure was going to be its last, but surprisingly, at the end they promise a new issue in June?! Maybe there are other people out there who are just as perplexed by their enjoyment of this comic as I am. Anyway, in last issue Valla was attacked by a bear (as in the euphemism for a burly gay man, not an actual bear, even though in this series that would be an entirely believable event) who claims to be the mortal son of one of the seven, read my lips, SEVEN, Christian gods. He proceeds to torture her and burn scriptures into her skin with sunlight, all while telling her that oil, gas, and the companies which pollute the world with them, are all part of God’s (with a capital G) plan. Meanwhile some alien looking dude with a pope hat discusses the church’s plan, along with the US government, to eradicate Valla’s terrorism once and for all. And that’s what you missed on…this s--t show!
All my complaints aside, this issue was probably the most well written of all the issues that have come out so far. The return of Valla’s jellyfish dress from her time living in the sea was nice, and her interactions with her headless man slave, Toby, were actually pretty sweet. Both Toby and the jellyfish dress probably didn’t need to perish to give this issue emotional weight, but when they did, I felt actual remorse for their passing. I can only hope more secondary characters are introduced in the series’ second arc because, while Valla is a cool character, she’s not varied enough to carry the series alone.
I like that the series unabashedly plays on vampire tropes. Most vampire stories these days try their hardest to separate themselves from “classical vampires,” but it literally takes rain clouds pouring holy water to beat Valla into submission. Probably the best part of the issue is when Valla, in what she thinks will be her final moments, tries to reach out mentally to all her loyal pervs to make them see that the world is worth saving and to carry on her efforts even in death. It was kind of a cop-out that her phone didn’t have enough battery to do this. The camgirling subplot is the best part of the damn comic!
The art is some of the worst of the series, but also some of the best. I said before that the art looks amateurish, but there’s really nothing you can change about it. That being said, some of the panels this issue were so loose and scribbly that I really just couldn’t go without mentioning it. The good thing though is that the coloring is fantastic and fits the pencils/inks very well. The cold glow of a computer screen or the warm light cast by fire is always well rendered and adds depth to the comic. Valla is expressive and varied in her body movement and facial expressions. It’s the little things, I guess.
There’s also of course the environmentalist message that couldn’t be more apparent if Miles Gunter came to your room in the middle of the night and shouted it in your ear continuously while you tried to sleep. From the series’ start, the use of oil spills as the primary factor that drives Valla to be an eco terrorist has always seemed a little untimely. Sure this would have been very topical in 2010, but while oil spills do still happen, they’re not as big of a news story as they used to be. This issue does something to rectify that by (Spoiler!) having the government drop a nuclear bomb on Valla in their final attempt to vanquish her. It’s a good way to have something new for Valla to fight going forward. Who wouldn’t be pissed if they got Hiroshima’d for trying, albeit radically, to help the world’s citizens see that they’re killing their home?
Dark Fang is not a deep commentary on human nature. It’s not using vampires in a way we haven’t seen before. It’s not going to wow you with its visuals. It’s also not going to make you, or anyone else, change their views on natural resource exploitation. What it is going to do is let your mind go on autopilot and enjoy a stupid story about an eco terrorist, camgirling underwater vampire queen. And in the end, isn’t that really what we need sometimes?