With a swarm of unspeakable demons laying siege to the monastery and the ‘new and improved’ Captain Hawkherst back and leading the charge, our ragtag group of mercenaries prepare to make their last stand in this final issue of Abnett and Culbard’s Dark Ages.
Whereas the majority of the story to this point been carried by Abnett’s rich dialogue and tight plotting, this is undoubtedly Culbard’s finale, allowing him to showcase his gift for the bizarre as the demons and mercenaries clash head-on. As I’ve said before on what seems like countless occasions, there’s something about the beautiful simplicity of Culbard’s artwork that just flat-out appeals to me. The slightly grotesque looking faces of his characters draws you in, and the dynamic action beats are skillfully executed. Whereas other artists may have to use a cramped, overly-detailed splash page to illustrate a demon savagely decapitating a brave soldier, Culbard manages exactly the same impact with just a flash of red. A true gift, and one which most definitely shines in this particular issue.
Abnett keeps things moving forwards throughout, and his grasp of the ‘dialogue of the time’ remains impressive, albeit with a few chuckle-worthy insults and battle-cries thrown in for good measure. After the stunning set up over the first couple of issues, the final payoff doesn’t quite live up to my own expectations, but everything is wrapped up in satisfactory fashion, and the post-battle epilogue featuring the weary, broken Galvin rounds things off on a poignant note which reminds us that Abnett is still one of the best in the business today.
Overall, Dark Ages serves as the latest impressive ‘mash-up’ collaboration between these two supremely talented creators, and while the merging of medieval and science fiction may be seen as jarring to some, I found myself utterly gripped by this series from its very beginning. An exciting, self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end, and a stunning showcase for one of the most truly unique artists going at the moment. Highly recommended.