In Review: Dark Ark #9

Dark Ark's voyage may be coming to a close as a creature wants to kill its captain.

The cover: Sorcerer Shrae stabs again and again into the gigantic monster Echidna, the mother of all beasts of the world before the Biblical flood began. Juan Doe shows the protagonist making a valiant attempt at killing the creature, but given the size of the beast, shown in previous issues, these efforts seem futile. Shrae looks great and the colors on this in ultra brights make it stand out against other books on the shelves. Excellent work once again from Doe. Overall grade: A

The story: The first five pages of this book contain no monsters, just people, and they contain one of the most monstrous scenes that Cullen Bunn has ever created. The clouds and rain are coming as prophesied and the workers that have helped Shrae build his ark now flock to it for the safety that was promised. Among them are a mother and her son who is maybe eight. As soon as they get to the opening of the vessel, Shrae refuses them. “This ark is no place for a child. What I do is not cruelty. It is mercy.” If the reader has been following this series, he or she knows that the people who board this ark will be fed to the monsters that are to be its true cargo. The woman cannot believe her ears. “Don’t do this! Don’t cast us out!” but Shrae stands firm. Others who wish to board pull her child from her, demanding they get out of the way and don’t block them. It’s on Page 5 where Bunn doesn’t something wrong in every possible way, ending the page with four words of dialogue that are absolutely horrific. Wow. And there haven’t been any monsters in this book, yet. At least not the expected ones. In the present things have gotten bad: Shrae is no longer on his ark, instead confronting Echidna, while the creatures whose passage he’s been defending have heard the call of their mother and flocked to the deck to take down their captain’s daughter Khalee and her friend Janris. Where can these young girls go for safety? The ark is full of hungry death that wants to devour them and the ocean means death by drowning. The story then moves to Shrae, who learns that Echidna is not a mother who will be denied her children. The protagonist, who is the epitome of an anti-hero, receives word from an unlikely place and discovers something that was thought to be gone. Things are really going to change next issue! This installment’s story is full of fantastic horrors and monsters. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: Juan Doe does double duty on the visuals with this issue and they look fantastic. The close-up of the boy on the opening page shows the reader the innocence that’s to be sacrificed to the will of God. The colors smolder with browns and tainted yellows teasing the coming storm. When the Dark Ark is revealed on the second page the sky goes orange and yellow, mimicking fire and brimstone. Look at how red Shrae’s face is when he first appears, like that of the Devil himself. The layout of the third page is great as it has a serpentine path of the characters speaking, while the background is a torrent of rain. The image of the boy in the fourth panel on Page 4 is terrifying, but it’s the final panel on 5 that’s scream worthy for the visual. The layout of the fourth panel on this page is awesome, showing the path that characters want to take. When the story moves to the present the creatures that storm the deck are misshapen masses of flesh with terrible teeth and eyes that glow a supernatural orange and red. The creature that goes after Khalee at the end of Page 7 is terrific! The first appearance of Echidna is partial double-paged spread across 8 and 9 that has the beast devouring every inch of the panel, and looking to devour Shrae as well. Her colors are fantastic! The colors take a dramatic turn with the new setting that Shrae finds himself in with the turn of a page. Notice how these colors carry over to the next page that returns to the past, mirroring the hopeless situation of the sorcerer. Once character stands apart from the others due to the colors of this individual’s clothes. This is an outstanding way for this person to stand out to remind the reader of what’s gone before. Back in the present, the individuals teased on the penultimate page are done so in classic horror style, making the reader strain to see on the final page what they look like. This is smart art and coloring on one hell of a book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ryane Hill creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, five different unique fonts for creatures’ speech, yells, and the voice of an unseen character. The scene settings remind me of classic horror movies with their wavering balloon shapes. I continue to marvel at the different fonts used for the monsters’ dialogue. By having their speech be in different fonts it differs them from others next to them and visually adds to wide array of creatures that populate the vessel. I also like the size of the unseen speaker’s speech at the end of this issue, for what else would it be but gigantic? Overall grade: A 

The final line: Dark Ark’s voyage may be coming to a close as a creature wants to kill its captain. The story is great, with a scream worthy moment and plenty of threatening creatures. The visuals are also impressive, with humans and monsters colliding and colors that increase the drama and thrills. This Dark Ark is perfect, if one is expecting to see Hell protect its own. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Dark-Ark-9/digital-comic/691217?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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