"Darkness Visible #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Mike Carey & Arvind Ethan David
Illustrated by Livio Ramondelli
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 5th, 2017
If you were expecting to continue the compelling story of Detective Daniel Aston as he goes through Hell to save his daughter's life in a world with literal demons, think again. This issue of Darkness Visible takes a break from all that momentum to provide you with a history lesson. Writers Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David have already established that humanity has been cohabitating with demons for eighty years. The two races have an uneasy shared space in the world. This chapter goes into the beginnings of that strange alliance, dating back to World War II.
The book picks up with a clandestine meeting between Winston Churchill and Lady Caroline Vivian, the leader of the Shaitan Anazge (aka the demons). She has an offer for the United Kingdom that will help them win the war. All she's asking for are a few thousand volunteers to serve as vessels for her kind to come through to this world. Churchill has his doubts, but when Vivian threatens to go to the Germans with the same offer, he reconsiders. The monsters quickly change the tide of the war, ending it far sooner than it does in our time, but at what cost? These creatures are given their own country as thanks for the victory.
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While this is a great story that details the beginnings of the human / demon co-existence, it takes you right out of the main tale with Daniel and his daughter. The creators spent two months building that up only to let this issue hit with a nearly audible tire screech. Sure, we know who Churchill and Hitler are, but we're not attached to them as we are to Daniel, you know, the actual main character of this comic. Several soldiers and ancillary characters are introduced, but they don't really matter. They're all dead now anyway.
Guest artist Livio Ramondelli brings the battles to life with savage ferocity. The demons are varied and terrifying. I'm surprised the war lasted another two years with these things working on the side of the Allies. Imagine a hulking beast with giant claws rampaging across the battlefield. How do you fight something like that? The first time we see them in action is an aerial battle with some winged creatures tearing apart some German planes like they were made of paper. It shows just how powerful they are and how game-changing this new alliance will be.
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While Ramondelli's monsters are a great visual, his humans leave something to be desired. The basic forms are there, however they often look like they were three-dimensional figures squished into 2D. It's almost as if they were folded into the book. This creates some awkward angles and positions for the characters.
As mentioned above, this issue of Darkness Visible does present an interesting alternate history of the world where demons played a major role in ending World War II. I just wish it didn't come at the expense of the momentum of the main story. I'm not sure how long the series is set to run for, but if it's meant to be an ongoing or a maxi-series, this issue would have been better suited between story arcs to break things up a bit. As it stands, it removes all momentum from the series after it worked so hard building it up over the first two chapters.