Dark Ages #4
The remnants of the X-Men are setting out across the sea to rescue Tony Stark and the other kidnapped scientists from Apocalypse. So far, so good. But there's one very big, very fiery problem: a pirate ship full of Blaze-ing demons.
Half the fun of this series is in discovering the fates of the heroes and villains we all love (or love to hate) in this steampunk alternate future. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Nightcrawler makes a wonderful Pirate Captain. If I ever have the opportunity to attend a comicon in the west (assuming the plague ends) I will be cosplaying in his outfit. Storm is a phenomenal queen. Colossus seems to be a fairly good anchor. All of the little character touches,(Storm’s daughter, Nkosazana, waking her daddy up at 5am, Gabby’s hoodie, Pepper’s knight-like steam-powered armor) and details littering the story really add to the sense that this is a living world.
The rest of the fun, of course, emerges from the story. On the surface, this is a simple (verging on simplistic) quest-narrative. A group of heroes go off, into the cold and the dark, to liberate the Treasure. Over the course of the quest, they encounter unexpected dangers (like, say, a horde of demons), unexpected surprises (a couple of child stowaways), and the usual requisite loss. Of course, the loss occurs just before the heroes cross the finish line. But it’s important to note that when a story is as rooted in character as this one is, a simple plot is not a defect. A clear narrative enables us to experience the pleasure of getting inside of these characters’ heads.
Of course, since this is Tom Taylor’s work, the adventure is high, the emotions are wound tight, and the loss is heartbreaking.
Also, there’s a giant, talking dragon. I can’t get mad at a book that uses Fin Fang Foom so well.
Iban Coello’s art is beautiful. Exquisitely rendered details decorate each page like filigree. His line work both tells the story and illustrates it — which is exactly what a comic artist is supposed to do, but few achieve it so well. Every detail, from the wisps and coils of Nkosazana’s lovely hair, to Nightcrawler’s X eye patch, down to the metal textures of the ship and the ridges of Colossus’s knuckles, adds to the shape and feel of this world. These details, along with his frankly masterful action sequences, elevate this already wonderful story to the level of the very best adventure fiction.
This is a phenomenal story, beautifully written and masterfully rendered. I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Dark Ages #4: Heeeere’s Johnny!
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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