An advance review of Dark Horse's Dark Matter!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Script: Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie
Art: Garry Brown
Colors: Ryan Hill
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Dark Matter is the first issue of a Dark Horse sci-fi comic about the crew of a derelict ship, who wake up and realize that they all have amnesia. While their amnesia prevents them from remembering their names, ranks, or mission, it has not affected their particular expertise. Among the crew is a woman who is an expert with a sword, a child who may or may not be a genius, and a robot. The robot does not recall its original programming, or even that it attacked the crew only moments earlier. It is suggested by one of the crew members that it was likely someone on board, one of the crew, who not only sabotaged the robot's programming but caused everyone's current affliction.
Ideally, the story works as a mystery, with plenty of promised action in the form of the woman with the sword among other things. The last panel especially promises fireworks for the second issue. Other than the fact that sword fights are cool, there is little other reason to have a sword master aboard a ship with futuristic weapons. These are not Jedi after all. This is probably the main problem with this story: much of it feels like we have seen it before. Pandorum comes to mind, which stars Dennis Quaid. What does not glare as a retread feels unnecessary. Perhaps Mallozzi and Mullie will piece everything together in such a way that the story feels unique and purposeful - but I can only judge what I read, not what I hope to.
Part of this has to do with the dialogue. Again, not very inspired. Most of the exchanges run like this, "Who are you?" "I don't know, who are you?" "I've got no idea.", or "Where is here?" "A ship." Perhaps serviceable dialogue to move along the plot, but it lacks the gravitas to make the issue memorable. The other issue is the characterization. Remember that no one knows who they are, or, obviously, who anyone else is. None of these characters even have names yet. It makes it difficult to really attach yourself to any of the characters. As weird as it may be, names do make a difference when personalizing a character for the reader. It is actually the robot and the kid who feel the most developed. There is the one question that the issue did not address: why is a kid aboard this ship?
The art can also be described as serviceable, but not great. It is highly stylistic though; kind of muted. Not huge on shading, and the characters do have the shapes of real people. Ever see the show Exo-squad? For some reason the show comes to mind when I look at the art. Again, not great, but serviceable. Perhaps, the art is meant to mirror the gritty harshness probably connected with the life of a crew aboard a cargo ship. At its best, there is the sequence on page thirteen.
Similarly, the colors are also quite muted. Mostly made up of various shades of black, grey and blue. The color fits the art very well, because it does have the same grittiness to it. Maybe that is meant for the harsh realities of these characters' kind of life. Let's see what the second issue brings. The best page for the coloring is final page. Good contrast between light and dark. Good feel to the page.
Overall, I hope for more from this series. Good chance there is more to expect. However, I rate what is there.
Review by: Jeffrey Haas, Outhouse Contributor