Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Juan Doe
Release Date: 20th September 2017
It’s a winning elevator pitch, for sure. Imagine a twisted version of Noah’s ark, designed not to carry the animals of the world but to carry its unnatural creatures – its monsters. And with writer Cullen Bunn and artist Juan Doe at the helm, Dark Ark looks to set to be the latest in a long line of high-concept success stories from upstart publisher AfterShock Comics.
Our maiden voyage here introduces us to Shrae, the captain of the titular “Dark Ark”, and some of his more colourful passengers. We have Harpies, Manticores, Vampires and Naga, to name but a few, all doing their best to coexist in the flood-drifting pressure cooker. We also, somewhat unexpectedly, get to meet Shrae’s wife and children, because more than just some cackling, mustache-twirling despot with a menagerie of monsters, our captain is a family man, trying to do what he feels is best for those he cares about – much like Noah himself.
Cullen Bunn is clearly having an absolute blast bringing his idea to life, giving us a quick summary of the different social hierarchies at play in the bowels of the Dark Ark during the course of this first issue. The different species each have different ways of living, and as the food supplies (and human sacrifices) gradually diminish, tensions are clearly running high. And, throughout it all, Shrae is forced to shoulder the brunt of this pressure, trying to ignore the whispers of his passengers to launch an attack on a certain other ark (you know the one) in order to replenish their meat stockpiles two by two.
Doe’s artwork is stellar as always, cementing his reputation as one of the best kept secrets – for more casual fans, at least – in the comics business today. There’s a scratchy, energetic flair to his pencils that really helps to add tension and emotion to what is essentially a parade of dialogue-driven scenes, and he tackles the character designs with the same gusto as Bunn does his story. He also casually drops in a jaw-dropping double-page spread about midway through this first issue, giving us our first proper look at the diverse inhabitants of the Ark, and setting things up beautifully for the chaos to come.
A million-dollar concept executed to absolute perfection, Dark Ark manages to twist the established story of Noah in a thoroughly unexpected way. Filled with interesting wrinkles, colourful characters and a surprising amount of heart and humanity, this is a series that you really need to add to your pull list as soon as possible.
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