Review - Dark Ages #1

"This is a godless Earth, I think."

Stories about time travel always feature the protagonist traveling to some exciting time. The uncertainty of the future for instance. Or maybe an important point in time that the traveler thinks they can change. Very few people choose to travel to the Dark Ages, what with all the pestilence and general depression. Still, there are some out there who may not know all that and choose to drop in, such as in Dark Ages #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Dan Abnett, illustrated by I. N. J. Culbard.

The medieval world is locked in war. As a godless mercenary company slogs across Europe in search of sustenance and coin, they encounter a demonic force born not of hell, but of somewhere else entirely. As far as jaunts across the countryside go, this adventure is a little different than what the merry band of travelers are expecting.

The Dark Ages were bad enough as it is, what with all the short life spans, constant feuding and over-reliance on serfdoms. Mix in a little of the cosmic and things get to be a little more zany, if you can believe it. Abnett has made a name writing intergalactic space stories, which makes Dark Ages a pretty interesting book for him. Sure, he had a hand in the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, but blending such a futuristic concept with a time so medieval is pretty challenging, yet Abnett handles the task with ease. The characters are believable in their quest for the simple things in life (money, lodging, etc.) and how they react to such a strange sight as a meteor crashing is quite entertaining. In short, they're more than surprised, which is completely understandable considering the circumstances.

Culbard's line style is very rigid, but in a positive way. His characters feel grizzled and competent warriors in terms of traveling the countryside, searching for work. The way they blend together with the backgrounds is very interesting as well. There's a simplicity to both, yet they work together in a way that's very illustrative and hammers home the joining of the two distinctly different eras. Much of the fear in the new arrival comes in the way of that alien being illustrated rather vaguely, keeping an eerie mystery surrounding it.

Dark Ages #1 is a rather intriguing book. There's enough of a hook in the first issue in terms of the clash between old and new that the characters' direction will be very fascinating. Abnett is no stranger to this type of work and it shows in his ability to blend those two worlds rather successfully. Culbard's illustrations are rather sophisticated in their simplicity, offering an unique perspective to the proceedings. Dark Ages #1 is a book that opens up with a lot of ambition and hopefully the creative team can deliver down the road.

Dark Ages #1 is in stores August 13 with interiors below.