PopCultHQ received a review copy of DARK RED #1 from AfterShock Comics. Available March 20th, the creative team for this issue features writing from Tim Seeley, art from Corin Howell, colors from Mark Englert, and lettering from Marshall Dillon.
Here’s PopCultHQ’s spoiler-free review of…
DARK RED #1
Main Cover Artist: Aaron Campbell
Charles “Chip” Ipswich isn’t one of those coastal elites with a liberal arts degree and a job at a social media start-up who knows where all the best brunch places are…
No, Chip is one of the “forgotten men.” He lives in a rural area in the middle of the country where Jesus still has a place at the dinner table and where factories send jobs to Calcutta.
Chip is also a vampire.
Stuck working the last shift at a gas station, Chip is lonely and bored…and then his dull, bleak life is turned upside down when SHE comes to town.
Tim Seeley (BRLLIANT TRASH) and Corin Howell (Ghostbusters, X-Files Origins: Scully, Bat-Mite) bring you a contemporary and horrifying tale of vampirism in the heart of America – one that’ll make you jump right out of your boots.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
DARK RED #1
Meet Chip. Just a small-town drifter, trying to go about his small-town life. Chip does his job, keeps to himself, sleeps during the day, bursts into flames in sunlight, and drinks blood. Chip’s one friend wants to be turned. Chip’s neighbors and townsfolk don’t like him or treat him with any measure of respect, and now Chip is being hunted. It’s complicated.
Sometimes I can be stupid and have tunnel vision when it comes to my comic book tastes. As much as I immerse myself in comics, I can come across just as ignorant in the most blatant of ways. I knew Tim Seeley as the Grayson guy. The Nightwing guy. Even as the Batman Eternal guy. But it turns out I should have been paying just as much attention to the Tim Seeley of Hack/Slash and Revival. Because it’s that Tim Seeley who brings nothing but A-game to Dark Red. There’s a morsel of Preacher in this, at least it has the makings of Garth Ennis’ signature series. Not just because of the vampire themes, more so because it feels like there’s a want to explore America through these characters. Their voices, their attitudes, their choices, and their actions. I felt energy familiar to the sorely missed John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke’s Major Bummer, too. It’s in the way that Seeley writes his characters so that they feel so authentic, so fully realized, that you feel you know what they’re doing when they walk off panel. For a first issue to feel that entwined with the characters is significant. The dialogue is an extension of this. Not to mention the premise, the play on a trope that leaves it feeling anything but tropey. The smaller details, things like Evie’s affliction, how that engages with Chip and how it governs Evie’s own actions. This is brilliant writing that makes for a great reading experience and drives the rest of the creative team to match the effort. I almost hope that issue 2 is delayed, I need more time to enjoy this.
If you found Corin Howell’s artwork too cartoony in the X-Files Origins and Bat-Mite, you may have questioned what Dark Red was going for upon reading solicitations and seeing Howell’s name as the artist. Think nothing of it. She maintains the atmospheric skill displayed in the more supernatural-leaning work. Her storytelling ability and use of layouts have grown in strides as well. Is the art cartoony? A little, but surprisingly it is perfectly fitting of the story. It’s like a road trip with John Romita Jr. and Mike Weiringo in the trunk. The expressions and action scenes are seriously kick ass. The design work of characters, wardrobe, and setting are all top-notch too. Corin Howell, my hats off to you, you’ve made me a fan.
Coming from titles as fitting as Hack/Slash, Revival, and Angel & Faith perfectly places Mark Englert to fit out the atmosphere and laconic yet sinister energy of Dark Red. You’ll need to re-read the issue just to give the subdued yet detailed tones of Englert’s work its proper due. Perennial dusk is a hard thing to convey, as is making impending sunlight feel like a dangerous thing. But Englert weaves magic to instill that in the reader. As well as this, he manages to use a palette that traps the reader in the same drab setting as the characters who inhabit it and makes sure that, when it flows, the blood has optimum effect.
When it comes to a new take on bloodsucking vampires, who else would you want to handle lettering but Marshall Dillon. A solid body of work on Vampirella holds him in good stead for the work here, as does the work on Wayward and Skull Kickers. The narrative texts and inner monologues are distinctly displayed in such an engaging fashion. The “voice acting” aspects are depicted with clarity and effectiveness. The effects work balances humor, impact, and visual flair to perfection. Another solid contribution that does justice to the entire team’s input in this issue.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
A near-stellar first issue that’s sure to shoot to the top of your pull list. While the Vampire genre has some strong entries in recent comic book history, Dark Red sits comfortably among the best. It offers fresh takes and creative ideas delivered through an angle we’ve rarely (if ever) explored characters like this through. There are respectful nods to its influences, thought-provoking philosophy, social commentary, and action in large doses. Sink your teeth into this book, it’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping.
4 out of 5 Stars
DARK RED #1 will be available at your local comic
shop and online retailers Wednesday, March 20th!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Tim Seeley
Artist – Corin Howell
Colorist – Mark Englert
Letterer – Marshall Dillon
Publisher – AfterShock Comics