Dark Ages, a new series from Dark Horse, continues the proud tradition established by other celebrated genre smashing sci-fi action horror revisionist historical fictions like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and that show on the history channel with the aliens guy.
Dan Abnett scripted the book, and I.N.J. Culbard provided all of the interior art, the cover art, and the lettering. When I picked up this book, I was unfamiliar with the creators, but my boyfriend reassured me. “Oh, he’s that warhammer guy.” In reality, Abnett’s name has been attached to a variety of projects and publishers including later volumes of The Authority for DC/Wildstorm, some cosmic Marvel stuff, and 2000AD. Most recently he worked with Culbard on The New Deadwardians at Vertigo. Culbard has recently finished a graphic novel, Celeste, published by Self Made Hero.
This debut issue of Dark Ages introduces a group of mercenary knights, European ronin if you will, camped out somewhere in the French countryside on the eve of the Hundred Years’ War. Suddenly a meteor/UFO/egg thing lands nearby and a team of adorable winged unicorn raptors start to destroy the curious men. An additional layer of interest will come from the contrast and potential conflict between the mercenary leader who is a religious skeptic and the cleric who anticipated the arrival of the alien creatures.
The artwork in Dark Ages works well with the story. Culbard has a definite style that is slightly gestural or impressionistic. Unfortunately, it means you have to rely on facial hair and clothing color to distinguish between different characters. On the positive side, Culbard’s style lets the reader absorb a lot of information quickly and transfers well to a computer or phone screen. Abnett and Culbard work well together, and it's delightful to feel their cooperation come through the page.
While it's hard to ascertain the overall tone of the series this early on, I would recommend Dark Ages for anyone looking for fun action and lighter science fiction. I'm excited enough about the quality of this book that I'm looking forward to checking out other projects from Abnett and Culbard.