Dark Ark #15 from Aftershock Comics arrives in stores this week, bringing with it not only “An Ending”, but also a new beginning for Shrae’s brood and the dark creatures of the world.
This story picks right up where the previous issue left off, its riveting cliffhanger ending. Feeling as though she has no other option or means to save her family from the perils of this new land, Khalee uses her father’s cauldron to call upon the Dark Masters and strikes a bargain with them. She agrees to serve the Dark Lords as her father once did in exchange for all of the powers of a Dark Sorceress. Infused with overwhelming dark energy and incensed with a vengeful wrath, Khalee confronts one of the Hunters, who reveals to her exactly who and what the Hunters really are, as well as the true nature and purpose of their hunts.
Khalee demands that the creature take her and her companions to its brethren at their stronghold. Upon meeting the rest of the Hunters, Khalee condemns them for their actions against the Dark Ark, deeming them unworthy of this new world, and sentencing them all to death. What follows is an epic finale as Khalee and the remaining survivors wage an intense battle against the deadly Hunters to rescue their captured companions and exact punishment on those responsible. Much blood is spilled, many lives are lost, and shocking sacrifices are made. When the dust settles upon the battlefield, both human and darkling alike make their way as one to the Dark Ark where Khalee gathers up her new flock leading them out into the new world to create a home for themselves and begin a new journey within this amazing story.
Once again Juan Doe does a remarkable job with the artwork on this issue. The way that he draws Khalee as she is channeling her new dark abilities is particularly frightening and menacing. Her powers appear to exude from her body and there is a distinct difference in the look and tone of the innocent young girl we met in the beginning of this story to this new darker incarnation. The action sequences and battle scenes at the end of the issue are visceral and do a great job of intensifying the excitement and drama of the situation. His use of orange red and yellow overtones really adds even more depth to the intensity. This has been a beautiful looking title and a visual treat right from the very first issue and Juan Doe does not fail to deliver in every way right up to the last panel.
The story by writer and series creator Cullen Bunn on this is nothing short of masterful. While I will say that the last couple of issues leading up to this one felt a little lacking in depth of story, Bunn pulls no punches this time around and has crafted a finale full of twists and turns, resolution and revelation, and supreme sacrifice. This issue is pivotal to ending what was Shrae’s story, while also transitioning into a new story about Khalee’s ascension as a Dark Sorceress and her role as protector and keeper of her flock.
Overall this has been a brilliant series both in it’s amazing story and dark visual narrative. While this is indeed an ending of sorts, it is also a new beginning for these wonderful characters. What will become of Khalee, Orin, Rea, Janris, and Kruul as they venture forthe into the unknown remains to be seen, however I for one am excited to see what exciting surprises Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe have in store for future installments in this remarkable series.