Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Carey & Arvind Ethan David
Artist: Brendan Cahill
Release Date: 22nd February, 2017
When I go for an “editor’s choice” review, I never really know what I am going to get, and even when I do find I frequently opt to avoid any further information and “go in blind”, as it were, to make sure I go into the initial reading with no preconceptions. And on this occasion, with Darkness Visible, a brand new series from IDW Publishing, I’m incredibly glad that’s what I did.
I can safely say that I don’t think I’ve ever become so engrossed in an single issue of a comic. I have read it, at the time of this review, about 15-20 times. So what is it that makes this book so good, I hear you ask? Well, there are multiple reasons, but before we get to that, let’s have a bit of plot background, shall we?
In the world of Darkness Visible there two sentient species, humans and Shaitan (demons), with the latter appearing on the Earth eighty years prior to the opening of this story. There is an uneasy truce in place, with a special task force led by the human Danny (aka Cyclops) monitoring the situation.
We learn about the background of the world and the Shaitan through a discussion Danny has with his daughter. This brings us to the first plus-point I would like to make about this issue: fluid, concise and informative exposition. It’s very rare to see it done as well as it is here. Many first issues tend to fall down in this respect, but with Darkness Visible the reader is quickly brought up to speed in such a way that it almost doesn’t feel like a first issue. The primary character’s main motivators and goals are well defined, but Carey and David leave ample wiggle room for any number of nuanced changes later down the line.
Although the character roles and backstory are, on the surface at least, pretty basic, the writers’ execution of Danny, his daughter Maggie and all the other supporting cast helps to make them all feel real. While we may not know much about any of them just yet, you can practically feel their depth coming off the page. One minor character who dies after only appearing in a few panels makes you feel for him instantly, and forces you to wonder what his own story was that led him up to that particular point.
This impressive level of depth is down to the fantastic dialogue and artwork, both of which work together seamlessly to expertly convey the emotions being experienced. The designs of the human characters are solid, but it’s the Shaitan designs that really stand out. They are monstrous and grotesque, but not overly so. Given the apparent direction of the story I can see how they may perhaps become a little more OTT down the line, but I personally hope not. In their current state I would happily hang sketches of them on my mancave wall without having my friends and family questioning my sanity. Brendan Cahill manages to keep them somehow aesthetically pleasing and repulsive at the same time.
Simply put, Darkness Visible is a really good book which has the potential to become something truly special if it continues in this fashion. Definitely one to watch, and one that I will continue to read and, hopefully, enjoy.
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The writer of this piece was: David Gladman
David Tweets from @the_gladrags