Dark Ages Volume 1: Medieval Mercenaries Battle AliensMarch 21, 2015
Dark Ages is a gruesome, strange little comic, bringing together god-fearing mercenaries of the Middle Ages and invading aliens who are capable of controlling the dead. It’s an extraordinary concept and I absolutely loved it.
Dark Ages is the latest project from Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, 2000AD) and I.N.J. Culbard (Celeste, Brass Sun), who previously collaborated on The Deadwardians, a story about zombies set in Victorian England.
This is another mash-up of a period comic with bloody sci-fi thrown in, this time taking bringing alien invasions and other-worldly technology into a dark, somewhat primitive period of history. You’d think such a collision may prove a little jarring, but it’s to the credit of both Abnett and Culbard that it works brilliantly.
Our story tracks a group of mercenaries, led by Captain Hawkherst and his right-hand man, who goes by the name of Lucifer. Hungry, and in search of war – as war brings money – the band are headed for France when a series of asteroids fall out of the sky. Things then turn rather ugly with the band of soldiers convinced they are facing the end of days.
It’s worth noting that this comic is gloriously, spectacularly violent. If you can’t enjoy limbs flying off and repeated beheadings, this one isn’t for you. Culbard’s art doesn’t hold back on the violence, though there’s some lovely use of silhouette so it’s not all red splatters. I really liked the art throughout Dark Ages. It’s not always the most detailed and fancy, but given the time period the comic is set in, that’s absolutely appropriate. The designs of the aliens are suitably unsettling too. And if you do pick up the trade, be sure to check out the early designs at the back of the book.
It’s not all decapitation and death though, thankfully. Abnett is excellent at finding some lighter moments in between battles, just as he did when co-writing the exceptional Annihilation: Conquest event for Marvel with Andy Lanning. There is a great little scene where the mysterious Brazen Head is explaining the science behind the invading hordes to an utterly lost Lucifer.
As comic book readers, we are used to hearing terms like nano-technology and bio-organic warrior-forms, but the poor band of soldiers have no frame of reference for such language and instead need to view these aliens as devils.
There’s also the splendid Vospur, who finds ever more creative ways to swear in a medieval fashion.
As we finish this first volume, we have a well-established band of characters and a fascinating set-up for future escapades. I’m looking forward to being there with them.
Dark Ages volume one, published by Dark Horse Comics, will be released April 7th.