Dark Ages #1
There's a monster in the center of the earth. Where were you when the lights went out?
The premise of this story is incredibly complicated. Thirty-odd pages are packed with happenstance (a living machine, unmaking the world; spider-senses gone mad; an apocalypse in the center of the globe; seven years of rebuilding; a second apocalypse) but the story is woven so deftly that none of the narrative threads get tangled. Taylor packed a miniseries worth of story into one issue and managed the pace so well that it never felt rushed.
The events so far are related to the readers by Spider-Man, who is telling the story to people gathered around a post-industrial fire. This framing structure excuses the fact that so much of the narrative is delivered via word-bubble, successfully compressing events enough to fit within a single issue. Dark Age‘s premise seems to exist as an excuse to give us Steampunk versions of the heroes we know. I’m all for that, myself. What will Iron Man do sans electricity? How will Spidey’s web shooters work? Alternate reality stories are Tom Taylor’s sandbox and if Marvel won’t hire him to write a book that exists within the contemporary canon (they should!) this will at least allow him free reign to wreak havoc on the world.
This book is fun, I can’t emphasize that enough, but part of the reason that the story succeeds is that Taylor doesn’t shy away from threatening the characters with real peril. There’s one page that, if you are a parent, will make your heart leap into your throat. Go in aware that high stakes sweeten the game. Go in knowing that there’s always a little light in the darkness.
This issue was set-up. We don’t really see the world as it becomes post-EMP, we don’t get more than a glimpse of the real peril, but we’ve been granted insight into the things motivating the characters we’ll follow going forward, and these are threads that I can’t wait to follow up as the story progresses.
Iban Coello’s art is dynamic and clean. He focuses on faces and explosions (sometimes at the same time) and that’s what you want to see in a story like this. Brian Reber’s colors are jewel-like, adding richness and verve to a world that already feels alive. Joe Sabino has some fun with the lettering, too, in such a way that helps with the narrative flow.
All of these elements combine within a story that lives up to its promise.
This story is a rollicking adventure, packed with high stakes and heart.
ADVANCED REVIEW: Dark Ages #1: The Setup
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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