Review: DARK ARK #3

Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Juan Doe and Ryane Hill
Published by Aftershock Comics
Release date: November 28, 2017

Can something be beautifully evil? If so, then Dark Ark #3 is definitely a candidate to be recognized as such. It’s a dark story about a group of creatures and humans that are quickly devolving into a deadly mess aboard a second ark during the great flood of the ancient world. Their evilness goes to show why they may have been left behind in the first place. The story and art, though, are entrancing and pull you willingly along page after page.

Cullen Bunn has proven before that he is a master of crafting dark tapestries that readers love to get wrapped up in. In issue #3 of Dark Ark he continues the story of Shrae and his boat of “monsters” journey across the flood waters and the investigation into the murder of Maldroom. The danger that Bunn is building around them, however, is not the flood waters or the journey but the darkness within. He has created a melting pot of dark beings, human and creature alike, that is impossible to keep from boiling over. Bunn has been gradually tightly winding the tension of the crowded situation on the boat for the past few issues until it has become a death throttle. It feels as if there are no innocents on board this vessel and almost it seems unnatural at times. There are Shrae’s children and perhaps the unicorns but the reader may still feel they are tainted as well.  Amidst so much darkness can innocence survive? There are still so many questions that beg to be answered and will leave the reader looking forward to future issues. A highlight of this issue is the interaction between stalwart Shrae and plotting Nex as they trade words throughout the issue. Though Nex’s machinations are a power play for control of the ship, Shrae’s action contrast starkly as he is making an attempt for the salvation of his children.

Juan Doe continues to gift the readers with his beautiful drawings. His style works nicely with the story as it tends to fall more on the abstract side rather than realistic. Doe’s wide soft-faced humans contrast nicely to the thin sharp visages of the monsters. In fact it seems that the more evil the creatures are the sharper their faces and extremities become. The use of lines to create the texture of the different creatures skin gives everything an added depth even without colors. Doe’s use of the monsters as a framing device demonstrates the throng of the horde as it writhes about highlighted characters in some of the panels. More than anything though it is Doe’s style of coloring that creates a fantastical beauty and sets the mood of each scene. The first few pages of the book are monotoned in reddish orange bringing to life the anger and aggression of the creatures. The pale pastels of the rain-drenched top side scenes drowns in hopelessness and worry. Finally the last act of the issue ends in a deluge of deadly passionate colors. Ryane Hill’s lettering is absolutely on point as it successfully conveys a change in speaking style between some of the main characters further adding to their voices. It goes a long way to bring these characters to life in the reader’s head.

Dark Ark #3 successfully ramps up the story as it brings the tension to a breaking point and then leaves the reader at the edge until the next issue. The first two magnificent issues should absolutely be enjoyed along with this one. Now is the perfect time to hop on board this loathsome boat of beautiful terrors.

The Verdict: 10/10

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