Dark Ages is a “What If…” style story by Tom Taylor, Iban Coello, and Brian Reber. It initially kicked off as a backup story from 2020’s Free Comic Book Day, and a long wait for issue #1 to hit comic shops ensued. This upcoming release day will include a trade paperback edition of the complete story, all six issues, and the FCBD starter. The timing is pretty good, considering the Marvel Universe is facing Judgment Day, and there are some parallels to that story here.
If you’re familiar with Tom Taylor, you know he is skilled at destroying universes, especially over at DC Comics by way of Injustice and DCeased. To me, Dark Ages is a great companion book for DCeased as it backs everyone into a corner where you can see the characters tested. I like how loss is a severe event in these stories, allowing readers to witness reactions that we won’t see in mainstream continuity. Seeing what happened to Sue Storm and Miles Morales were some of my big ticket items.
Earlier I mentioned a parallel to Judgment Day, which I see by way of a giant celestial figure coming to end all that is. As we’ve seen in the past, some significant moments come from crossover events, but the status quo endures. I always think of the Fear Itself event and how the three epilogue issues undid most of the series. This story and version of Marvel show how alliances form, sacrifices for good or bad, and powers exploited beyond our previous experiences. This version is perfectly twisted, as the heroes don’t have the desired outcome of saving the day and must live with the results.
Tom Taylor plays the emotions expertly as he makes those sacrificial moments, and Iban Coello follows his lead perfectly. I appreciated the facial expressions and could feel the joy and sorrow radiate off the pages. The moments of battle were vast and cinematic. After seeing Iban’s art and how he played with the Fantastic Four, I know I am looking forward to seeing what he will do in the new series. An advantage that the trade paperback gives the monthly collector is how you can stay in that world longer without the wait.
Brian Reber helps enhance Iban Coello’s art, providing great atmosphere and temperature to elevate scenes. There are times of playfulness, and it feels perfectly sunny, but then the action and danger arrive perfectly dark and cold. The sad moments are profound, and I hope to see Iban and Brian work together as they did a fantastic job with the whole Marvel Universe at their disposal. The trade paperback comes with a sketchbook and variant cover gallery along with a discounted price tag from the original issue price, which is excellent as a no-holds complete event for you to consume.
Dark Ages started as “What if technology in the Marvel Universe stopped,” but with the timing of this release, I feel like this is more like “What if Judgment Day went wrong?” Tom Taylor brings Iban Coello in to help with the dirty work of destroying a universe, but in that, we also see characters rise to new highs and lows as they try to survive.
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