Advance Review – Dark Red #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artwork: Corin Howell
Colours: Mark Englert
Lettering: Marshal Dillon
Release Date: 26th March 2019

Charlie “Chip” Ipswich works night shift in a dead-end job in the small, middle-American town of Fall’s End. He does a good job, puts up with abuse from the customers and his boss, never complains and he makes damned sure he’s home by dawn. Well, he has to be home by dawn, because Chip is a vampire.

Unlike the vampires in the larger towns and cities however, he doesn’t have the trappings and community that goes with the fangs. He’s just a regular guy trying to make it from day-to-day, or should that be night-to-night?. Chip’s life isn’t glamorous, it’s pretty bleak all things considered, but it’s his choice to be apart from other vampires and the luxuries that he could embrace. His life isn’t completely empty though, he’s seeing a girl who helps him with his needs and he helps her with hers, and he’s content with his lot. That is, until trouble comes looking for him bringing with it a face from the past.

I’m going to say this now, before I ramble on incoherently for another 400 or so words… just buy this book. I’ve been waiting a long time for something to replace the hole that was left in my soul when American Vampire ended and I think Dark Red may have the chops to be just that book.

Dark Red is a horror-crime story that Tim Seeley cites as a metaphor for the widening gap between rural and urban communities, and the mutual resentment of each other’s cultures and lifestyles. These are themes that Seeley brings from his own experiences growing up in a small rural town. Seeley also states that he’s drawing heavily from his work on Revival for the crime aspects and Hack/Slash for the genre themes, so it’s safe to say that this is going to be a series to watch out for.

The characters in this first issue are fantastic and you become invested in them really quickly. Honest to God (and please don’t tell my wife), but I think I’m a little bit in love with Evie! The other characters we meet aren’t quite so adorable but by and large they are all characters that I’m sure you’ve met yourselves at some point in your lives and they come across as very real people on the page.

As much as Tim Seeley’s writing is brilliant in this issue, Corin Howell’s artwork brings the whole thing to life superbly. Fall’s End is shabby and run down and the people that inhabit it are just normal, down to Earth people, they’re not glamorous or stylised, they’re just normal people and that really helps you to feel comfortable around them immediately.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve fised with Chip’s need to get them out of his home and his life as swiftly as possible. Howell’s art has taken Seeley’s divide between rural and urban and given it a very clearly defined face.

As I subtly suggested above, this series has really caught me by surprise. It’s superb both narratively and visually and I’m comfortable citing this as the next big vampire story to hit the shelves.

Rating: 4/5.

The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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