In Review: Dark Red #5

A perfect conclusion to a great gory opening saga.

The cover: This cover wraps up this first story in the most gorgeously graphic way. Colored in red, a gigantic Kamille leans forward and smiles as she dangles her hands above Chip who screams in horror. He’s a much smaller character, but he’s had a few changes since the previous issue. His hands are raised in the air and his head is tilted back in a painful wail. Oh, and from his jaw down he’s only a skeleton. I love his face. Adding to this is that he has the meat and skin on his forearms that are raised, but just below that he’s got tendons and nerves dangling onto his bones. Chip is emerging — or being dunked — into water that’s up to his chest. Within the blue liquid are several white flasks with red crosses scrawled onto them. He’s in a bubbling space filled with holy water. Aaron Campbell crushed this cover. I’ve loved this series and this cover just makes me fall in love again. Overall grade: A+

The story: Talk about stating in the thick of things! Tim Seeley’s tale starts with Chip narrating what’s happened previously to where he is right now. Where is he? He’s in the shadows watching a mob of skinhead vampires cheer Kamille who stands atop a truck with her arms open wide, basking in their chants of “Meat!” Kneeling before Kamille is Evie, the “Meat!” the skinhead bloodsuckers want. As Kamille tells her minions they can drink all that they want from the land, a store bought container of open garlic is hurled at her. Recoiling, Chip leaps onto the truck and kicks the wannabe queen back. He hands two air freshener crosses to Evie to ward off the approaching vamps. He addresses the mob of death saying, “All this…these swastikas and white power chants. This is all a lie. The Nazis didn’t think you had a gift. They didn’t think you were great. They hated you like they hated the Jews and Romanis and gays…I know because I fought the Nazis. I watched American boys die fighting them. Kamille Kaczmarek is just going to do what Nazis do. She’s going to use you…” These passionate words don’t go far when Kamille rears up and orders the skinheads kill Chip. Major action mode then kicks in on Seeley’s story, with blood and organs flying. Chip and Evie make a run for it and get a moment to talk. Both characters are incredibly endearing on Page 8. Someone is contacted on 9 that changes the heroes’ luck on 13 and it’s just flat out awesomeness. I wasn’t too surprised by the action at the bottom of this page because this ability was shown in an earlier issue. That said, I jumped out of my chair and cheered by what happened on 15 and who took the action. Page 17 is another beautiful character moment for the leads. Page 21 has two characters going somewhere unexpected and the final page is going to cause a lot of trouble soon. This is perfect storytelling. Overall grade: A+

The art: I cannot rave enough about the art by Corin Howell. The first page shows how masterfully she can move the point of view about: it opens with a silhouette of the old refinery, followed by the vampire throng, Kamille basking in their roars, Evie wincing at her fate, a panel looking down at Chip who is watching from nearby, and ending with a tight close-up of the hero’s eyes. The top three panels on Page 2 are cool and incredibly funny. Chip’s entrance is butt kicking. And check out the vampires’ reactions to what he’s doing to Kamille. I love how Chip’s words seem to be working on at least one vamp in the crowd until Kamille speaks and then he’s the one that gets to Chip first, and things don’t go well for this young undead racist. As I thrilled at what happens in the third panel on 5, I was floored by Evie’s action in the panel that immediately follows it. The vampire that Chip takes out on the next page is flippin’ fantastic! The emotion of the character in the last two panels on 9 is heartbreaking. Page 13 is the most epic moment of the issue and it’s terrific. No Sankara stones were lost in its creation, I’m sure. The conflict on 14 and 15 is incredible looking, with the fourth panel on 15 worthy of screams of shock and joy from the reader. The final six panels on 17 are sweet, honest, and the perfect way to put a cap on this saga. What else could follow this moment but the full-paged splash on 18? The smile and look of joy in the fourth panel on 20 made me smile. The pair of characters on the last page made me nervous and the final image of the issue is both heroic and foreboding. Howell is a spectacular artist. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Mark Englert is also killing it on this issue. Look at the impressive work done on just the first page. The dialogue balloons of the vampires is a harsh red that matches their speech. The vampires are colored in a pink tainted by red, making them appear inhuman simply by their color. Their eyes glow an animal yellow. Chip’s narration is on a yellow that matches the color found on legal pads. Look at the sensational work in the bottom panel: the yellow eyes and the fiery red background, which is tainting Chip. Kamille stands out for her blonde hair and porcelain skin. When blood flows it’s tremendous in crimson. I really like the dark background on 8, making the reader wholly focus on the characters and increasing the power of their words. The sounds on 10 – 15 pop off their pages for being boldly colored. The oranges and reds on 20 are wonderfully tacky and absolutely appropriate for the setting. The faded colors of the last panel instantly have the reader identify where this image came from. Englert is a coloring god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The vampires’ chant, Chip’s narration, dialogue, yells, sounds, weakened speech, signage, and the final three words are created by Marshall Dillon. The bold repetitive font of the chant increases the vampires’ threat. Chip’s narration is written for a letter, so it’s in cursive, which looks great. The yells and screams are done is different sizes and fonts to make each wail enormous. The sounds are perfection, with SPLUTCH, WRUNCH, THROOSH, and SPLUTCH glorious. The weakened speech is in a smaller and lighter font. It’s still easy to read, but any reader will be able to recognize this character won’t last much longer. If Englert is a god, Dillon is definitely king. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A perfect conclusion to a great gory opening saga. The story wraps up incredibly well and the door is left open for more adventures involving Chip and his friends. They cannot come quick enough for me. The story has action, emotion, surprises, and fantastic characters. The visuals are to die for! Every panel is perfection in layout, execution, colors, and letters. This is modern horror at its finest. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Dark-Red-5/digital-comic/784929?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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