By Miles Gunter and Kelsey Shannon

Another new arrival from Image Comics graces the shelves in the form of Dark Fang. A title that is being marketed as an outright commentary on the climate change deniers and that’s absolutely the truth. There’s no subtlety in this comic and that’s not always good thing…

The story centers around Valla, a vampire who had been living underwater in the ocean for over a century, until it became polluted by what appears to be an oil spill. After her peaceful, aquatic life is uprooted, she journeys to the surface where everything has drastically changed since submerging herself. The surface is also where she plans to seek revenge. Overall, it seems like an interesting premise, especially tying in the social/ecological commentary. Unfortunately, the execution just doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of this strong idea.The creators seemed so eager to get their “message” across that the narrative and form of the book start to crumble. They fit two different stories into one issue that could easily have been three different story arcs. They give Valla’s entire backstory in ten pages. How she was turned into a vampire could have been such a great storyline, instead readers are given one lackluster page. Also, there are just some nonsensical things that happen that completely break the engagement with the comic, such as when she disperses oil with her “immortal powers,” and, yes, this is a comic with a vampire protagonist, but there are limits folks. Those are just a couple of examples for the poor storytelling and please trust that there are more, but there’s no need to keep beating a dead horse.

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As for the “commentary” on climate change, it can’t be more overt than dialogue such as this: “But this was not the darkness I knew. It did not belong in the ocean.” Not only is that absolutely generic and amateurish, it completely softens the blow of what readers are led to believe Miles Gunter and Kelsey Shannon are trying to convey. Having everything be surface level dulls the blade of sequential art so much and typically makes audiences take the material at face value and with little engagement – they won’t take it seriously.

Even trying to tell this story with comedy and horror trappings can’t be done properly, but that’s mostly in part due to the artwork. Shannon has little detail and depth in the pages. Everything has clean lines that painfully highlights this. Even the coloring can’t add the necessary dimension or deliver the intended emotions. The color that pops in the comic is red, but really shouldn’t it have been black, if oil is the key antagonistic force and driving element for Valla’s journey? There just doesn’t seem to have been much conversation about how to have the most impact on the material. It’s just flat.

This was just a disappointing book from start to finish. It’s a bit surprising Image was pushing this as title with a strong message and voice. Well, it seems the marketing department did their job in garnering interest, but it was very deceiving. Now, of course, this is only the first issue, but it’s rare to find a new comic where nothing seems to click on any level.

About The Author Erik Gonzalez

I was exposed to comics early on, one of my earliest vivid memories was picking up the entire run of Dark Horse’s Aliens vs. Predator(1990). Odd and perhaps morbid choice for a kid, I know...At the same time, I was immersed in the pop culture of the time which included, but not limited to: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and of course, Batman: The Animated Series. Upon reflection, it’s fairly evident why I’m such a zealous geek. My day job is in television operations, so basically I’m exposed to media at every turn, which is where I want to be! Writing comic book reviews is another outlet to convey my respect and fanaticism for the this graphic medium. I hope what I have to say will resonate with others and also spark heart-felt discussion. Simon Pegg said it best, “Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

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