In Review: Dark Shadows: Year One #6
The cover: Nice, different cover for the final issue of this limited series. Patrick Berkenkotter channels his inner Drew Struzan for a really sweet image of Barnabas, Quentin Collins, and Quentin in werewolf form, all above Collinwood mansion. Quentin’s not in this issue, but the cover is really good! This isn’t your typical comic book cover–This looks more like a movie poster. I’m all for Berkenkotter doing all future Dark Shadows covers if they all look like this! Overall grade: A+
The story: This closing issue by Marc Andreyko opens with Nathan musing over the success of his plans: Millicent is in an asylum, her fortune is his, and Daniel could be taken out by Barnabas. He chuckles as he settles into his bed when suddenly his windows blow open with Barnabas flying with bloody hands raised, screaming, “You will pay for what you have done!!!” The angered vampire does not kill the evil man, only promising Nathan will not know when death will come for him. This prompts Nathan to find Joshua for help, only to see him carrying the bloody corpse of his wife, killed last issue. Nathan reveals that Barnabas is responsible for her death because he is a vampire. Joshua’s sad mood turns to anger as Nathan further reveals his participation in Naomi’s death. Things then decidedly take a turn for Nathan, who gets assistance in destroying Barnabas from a close, unlikely source. The justification for this person’s desire to help on Page 8 is perfectly in character. The final assistant in his plot is revealed on age 9, and the trio make their way to confront the undead Collins on Page 11. The confrontation is a classic bit of horror! I loved Page 13, and Barnabas’ reaction in the fifth panel, which made Page 16 all the better. The final two pages with its final four words were great! As it ended, I wondered if I should be giggling at the final page. I found myself smiling with final speaking character. I loved this conclusion immensely! Overall grade: A+
The art: Where to begin on a book that looks this good? The characters are just great. The smugness of Nathan in the first three panels of this issue just oozes “Creep!” The reveal on Page 2 is a thing of beauty for a Dark Shadows fan or someone who loves gothic horror. I have no idea how Andreyko wrote the description for this in his script, but artist Guiu Vilanova has worked wonderful dark magic to makes this page, which this series has building towards, utter perfection. And it’s only Page 2!!! Nathan’s fall and fear, the ambivalence of his antagonist, and the marking of the prey is great on Page 3. The fourth panel is horrifyingly awesome! Page 4′s close-up of Joshua is a triumph. Vilanova is directing his actors flawlessly! The angle of the predominate image on Page 6 is fantastic–And this intensifies the anger in the dialogue stated. I love, love, LOVE the outline of the character that haunts Page 7 as this absent character is discussed. Page 13 is bloody brilliant! Such power and energy and emotion! This is art to be cherished! Overall grade: A+
The colors: Ye gods, Josan Gonzalez is good! The first panels start in warm flesh tones, but as the supernatural elements appears all colors fade to an overwhelming character in black with red against a hellfire background of yellow. Blood red is not only a sign of death but of damnation, as shown in panel three of Page 3. Yellow is often employed for backgrounds to show elevated emotions, especially with Joshua. It’s beautiful! I also love that orange is used for the character’s outline on 7, rather than red. It suggests this individual is waiting, making him more frightening. Gonzalez’s coloring again hits perfect marks on Page 13, and I shouldn’t say such an event is gorgeous, but this truly is. This is fantastic work! Overall grade: A+
The letters: Making this book perfection are Troy Peteri’s dialogue, screams, yells, and sound effects. Page 13 is great, but the WHACK on 16 seals the series wonderfully. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Without question, this is one of the most entertaining vampire series ever created. Fans of Dark Shadows can flap their wings in glee and virgins to the series can be safe in the knowledge that they can enjoy it with no foreknowledge. You will be cursed like the Collins clan if you don’t procure a copy of this tale. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th grade English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.