Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I. N. J. Culbard
Release Date: 8th October 2014
The penultimate issue of Abnett and Culbard’s Dark Ages provides us with all the answers we’ve been searching for during the first two chapters of this story. We discover the origins of the whispering voice behind the wall, the reason for the monk’s vow of silence, and gain a fresh new perspective on the ‘demons’ which are besieging the monastery. This is a fairly slow paced issue for the most part – as is commonly the case prior to ‘final showdowns’ – and features a lot of exposition, it has to be said. Abnett fills in the blanks in the story with his usual skilful eloquence, but I couldn’t quite shake the nagging feeling that the reveal itself wasn’t quite as impressive as I’d hoped it would be.
I’m not going to go into much detail here for risk of spoilers, but there’s definitely a unique clash of styles and genres at play here, with Galvin’s faith being tested yet further as the situation becomes more and more dire. Culbard does a solid job here in what is essentially a prolonged conversation of an issue – albeit with a brief flurry of activity near the end – and while his straightforward-yet-expressive style may not necessarily be to everyone’s tastes, it most definitely works for me. Some of Abnett’s dialogue feels a little forced in places, however, with several of the other mercenaries seemingly only existing to make (admittedly chuckle-worthy) exclamations such as “Devil’s arsehole!”.
Overall, this issue serves its purpose well, giving us the explanation we were all craving and carefully moving all of Abnett and Culbard’s pieces into position for what should be a climactic, action-packed showdown. The final panel is pretty damn fantastic, too, and I have no doubt in my mind that the payoff to this bizarre mash-up of styles is definitely going to deliver. Let’s call this one a deep breath before the final plunge, and begin bracing ourselves for the carnage to come. Devil’s arsehole indeed!
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