Dark Ark, the groundbreaking series from Aftershock Comics, returns to comic book store shelves this week with Dark Ark: After the Flood #1. The powerhouse duo of visionary writer Cullen Bunn and artist extraordinaire Juan Doe reunite for an all new chapter in the epic saga of the Dark Ark and it’s demonic inhabitants.
This first issue, titled “Obligations”, picks up right where volume three of the previous series ended. Having made a deal with the Dark Lords and sacrificing her father, young Khalee must now lead the survivors of the Ark to build a new life and home for themselves in this strange new world. As the others salvage what materials they can from the Ark for their new dwellings, Khalee consults with her new master and find out what more is required of her. They tell her that in order to spite God for flooding their world to eradicate them, Khalee must bring them Noah’s Ark.
The issue also contains flashbacks of the past interwoven throughout. They tell of Shrae and the destruction of a sacred city named Gohorth and all that dwell within it by order of the Dark Lords. After the sorcerer reduces the holy city to a pile of rubble and ash, one of his followers discovers a small female child amongst the wreckage miraculously unharmed. Taking this is a sign from the Dark Lords, Shrae takes the child into his care as one of his own.
The issue ends with Khalee wandering alone and feeling overwhelmed with the tasks ahead but determined to see them through, as she is suddenly faced with a horrific revelation about her sacrifice to become dark sorceress.
The writing on this issue is of the caliber one would expect from a seasoned talent like Cullen Bunn. The action and pace of the present day is rather uneventful and more about regrouping and reflection for both the humans and monsters that have survived the previous struggle and journey to get here. Bunn once again uses a brilliant method of storytelling by going back and forth between the present and the past to give even more depth and insight into characters that have already been well-established. This worked wonderfully in volume two to explain how the human prisoners came to be so on the Dark Ark, and will no doubt add more dimension and backstory to the relationship between Shrae and Khalee in future issues. Cullen Bunn is a master at world and character building and really knows how to suck his readers right into that world flawlessly and this issue is no exception.
Juan Doe’s artwork is as vibrant and visceral as ever this time around. The way he sets the tone and pace of the story visually really compliments and enhances the situations and events of Bunn’s writing. He does a wonderful job through his use of color and expressing emotions on the characters in the more reflective and emotional moments of the story. This technique only contrasts and adds the intensity brilliantly when the action does kick in with Shrae’s total and utter annihilation of Gohorth. That entire action sequence is visually magnificent and truly showcases the incredible powers and abilities once possessed by the former dark sorcerer.
Overall this is the perfect premier issue to the highly-anticipated return to this series and to the world and characters of Dark Ark. It starts out at a gradual pace, allowing the reader and the characters time to reflect and process all that they have been through, as well as the journey ahead. It ends with a bang and a shocking surprise or two, and if the previous installments of this magnificent title are any indication of what lies ahead, then we are all in for one hell of a dark wild ride!