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Richard Caldwell Returns to Reviewing Comics with After Dark #1

Longtime comic reviewer Richard Caldwell returns with a look at After Dark #1.

His two cents:

“Alright, so the director of the street-smart Training Day film Fuqua and the notoriously infamous actor Snipes have created a dark science fiction thriller comic book. If you’re like me, then you are not easily swayed by Hollywood types infecting the funny book medium, their names pushing them ahead in the long line of earnest writers and artists who have been slaving for years for a turn at the spotlight. That said, this is actually a sweet read. In this premiere issue, we are introduced to a distant world, an Earth fallen on the hardest of times. It was generations past when assorted natural catastrophes came to a head (and we are here clearly invited to fill in the blanks with our own timely threats of climate change and of the dire need for alternative fuels, etc.), and with the science meant for destruction attempting to then right the wrongs, only to make matters even worse. Solar City is the last great refuge of humanity, although with a claustrophobic political landscape igniting increasingly severe rioting, and with little to none natural resources remaining, and with the mass of the Earth enveloped in a total and toxic night… times are grim. The world is falling apart. Shades of Highlander 2, only far more interesting, far more literate.

And that is due entirely to the efforts of ace scribe Milligan. In the early to mid-90′s the man was at his creative zenith, before wasting too many years working on stories involving men in tights. He has been making a strong, strong comeback, however, and After Dark is a righteous example of nothing less. His dialogue is captivating and hypnotic, every nuance of characterism and mannerism is so well-thought out, so distinct in voice and style. A group of military troopers are teamed with a ragtag number of rebels and criminals on a rescue mission to seek out a near-mythic female revolutionary not seen in over a decade. What a great premise.

It almost saves the art.

Yes, Radical has extremely high standards for graphic presentations, but somehow, certain aspects of this story fall a wee bit shy of that. The layouts were often muddled to the point of it just not being very clear as to what the heck was going on. There was a fight scene in particular that was poorly choreoAfterDark_1_Mattina_cover.jpggraphed, poorly drawn, with mismatched limbs and awkwardness in each frame. The landscapes, on a finer note, were breathtaking. The “outside” shots, the city, the vessels, were so imaginative. Enormous machine-buildings that look straight out of the acid-infused mind of the very best sci-fi authors circa the 1960′s. Overall, there is potential here, if anything. Although, Leonardo Manco is credited as artist for the next issue in this mini-series, so I have hopes.

Final verdict… for a comic created by a pair of Hollywood stars, this ain’t half bad. There is a strong enough groundwork laid out here, and certainly Milligan is one of the better and more inventive mainstream comic book writers working today. As dark as the world shown in After Dark is, I have a little faith that this series will be a bright spot on my reading list in months to come.”

To check out Richard Caldwell’s blog, click the cover image.

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