By Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard
One of the greatest thrills about browsing the new releases every Wednesday is finding a new #1 issue to check out. This week Dark Horse has a new series from Dan Abnett called Dark Ages, about a group of mercenary warriors in the 1300’s who come face-to-face with aliens. Be careful what you wish for, because when you ask for a fight you might get slaughtered by aliens with acid tongues.
After reading the first issue of Dark Ages it’s hard not to compare it to the recent first issue of Usagi Yojimbo Senso, also recently released by Dark Horse Comics. On the surface they seem similar but once you read both issues you can definitely tell the difference. This is just a case of great minds think alike, aliens coming to Earth in past times is a commonly used comic idea. It’s what you do with it that sets you apart from others.
Abnett sets up this first issue well by giving us a brief glimpse of this group of warriors and how they fit into their world. As soon as you feel comfortable with these characters and their setting, that’s when the aliens make their appearance. This whole issue flows smoothly and has all of the things you look forward to in a first issue. Abnett is no stranger to sci-fi stories or medieval worlds, so to see him combine those in the pages of Dark Ages makes for an incredibly fun read.
Having not been familiar with Culbard or his art before reading this, his basic looking style is surprisingly eye-catching. There are plenty of artists who have a simple style of art that fails at building an atmosphere that doesn’t feel cartoony, but for some reason Culbard’s is the exact opposite. His art feels more like an experience to read rather than a chore. It’s also his color palette and how he uses it in this series that is a big standout of this series. With a title called Dark Ages set in the 1300’s at night, it’s almost assumed that the colors would be incredibly dark. However, Culbard’s use of dark blues and greens still give you that gloomy feeling while still managing to feel colorful.
Together, Abnett and Colbard’s talents combined make Dark Ages a fun read for being such a harsh story. There are plenty of intense and surprising moments, and by the end of the issue you’re in the zone and pining for the next one. Dark Ages has started off on the right foot but the truly fun part of any good first issue is wondering where the story will go from here.