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After Dark #3 is “Grim and Poetic,” Says Sequential Tart

Review by Holly von Winckel

Radical Publishing

Writer: Peter Milligan
Penciler: Leonardo Manco
Inker: Leonardo Manco
Colorist: Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo, Sansan Saw
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Tae Young Choi
Other Creators: Antoine Fuqua, Wesley Snipes

One of the hallmarks of the post-atomic era is the ability to really, truly imagine the ruin of the planet. Prior to that, all we had to think of in terms of the complete devastation of our world was the biblical Armageddon, but that was abstracted a bit by the fact that those who truly believed in it wouldn’t have to live with it. The Rapture would clear out the believers before the badness happened. Since humanity realized we actually have the power to render our world completely inhospitable, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios have been a powerful force in the popular imagination. It’s easier and easier to think of a world that has dropped off the precipice into the realms of the unendurable … but we might still have to endure it.

The world of After Dark is just such a place: our planet has been plunged into the horrors of darkness, and humanity is grasping for any possibility of a return to light. It is a frantic and heedless scramble, and in the end, the ray of light turns out not to be the promised illumination, but merely another flame to burn us. And thus the cycle of struggle continues.

Does that sound grim and poetic? Because that is how After Dark #3 plays out. Angel is no angel, the Baby loses innocence, and most of the team sent to round up humanity’s last hope realize too late the difference between the true light of hope and a very hot flame. Fortunately, humanity is very deft at locating a last hope after the last last hope has been extinguished.

This concluding issue in the After Dark series is very final, in the fatalistic sense, but leaves the door open to the continued cycle of hope and likely failure. Perhaps I didn’t feel a great affinity for any character particularly, but the roles they played and their ultimate fates were rock solid.

After DarkGraphically, After Dark is indulgently lush. This story could have been told in stark black line work and gotten me there all the same. However, the creators went ahead with the depth of color and volume, a visual emphasis on the emotional content. Captain Brood’s scars look painful. Baby’s distorted head seems to be literally bursting with unwanted, unasked knowledge. Everyone stinks of disease, pollution, hubris and desperation. Every surface looks contaminated, foul; even the air is tangibly unwholesome.

After Dark #3 is the completion of the series, but did not create in me the hunger, the need, to go back to the first and second issues. Fans of the series need not fear disappointment, but new readers might want to check out all the issues before deciding what they think. There is no stand-alone story here, the first two issues are required for the story arc and plot strands to really come together. Fans of ruined Earth scenarios will want to add this to their collection.

Click here to go to this review at Sequential Tart!


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