Darklight

2.33 Overall Score
Art: 3/10
Dialogue: 2/10
Story: 2/10

There are a few cool pages where we get to see some creative creatures and Kowalski has a lot of fun playing with the sci-fi themes.

Darklight wants to be a sweeping sci-fi epic. But it isn’t. It’s confusing. It’s silly. It’s boring. It’s just a mess.

Darklight
Kultgen, Kowalski
Nerdist Industries
2014

 Boy, oh boy! There’s a lot happening in Chad Kultgen’s new book Darklight, and almost all of it is bad.

Darklight, with art by Piotr Kowalski, is the story of humanity’s last hope. Taking themes from Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and Romeo and Juliet, and then mashing them up in the most unappealing way, Darklight tells the story of the Woden, the ship that intends on saving, not just mankind, but the entire universe. There is a red flag in the first two pages of Darklight, in the form of a 17(!) paragraph prologue that is as interesting as the list of ingredients on a bag of Doritos. The prologue, in many more words than necessary, tells us a few things: Earth is nearly kaput, the sun has burned out, and our heroes intend on giving the universe the kick in the ass it needs in the form of a new, supercharged star. The prologue also tells us about the Luminids and the Durons, two warring alien races. The Luminids have evolved to become one with the machines and technology around them, and the Durons have transformed into a race of genetically perfect specimens, no longer plagued by illness and disease.

The comic begins just as the doomed attempt to recharge a fading star goes awry and the Woden comes under attack from Luminids and Durons. Our hero is Captain Rhodes who commands his ship with the help of both a Luminid, named Andros, and a Duron, named Cora, who have put aside their differences for the sake of the universe. None of our characters are particularly likable. Captain Rhodes is a joyless hard-ass who offers little more than scowls and painfully dull exposition. Andros is a robotic and empirical character (think C-3PO, but without the neuroses) who spends most of the book explaining the science of this world; science that is more than a little suspect (more on that later). Cora has one of the most compelling stories, in that she is in a relationship with a human, but this dynamic is never fully fleshed out.

The best science fiction is able to create a world that is fully realized and relatable. However, the sci-fi aspects of Darklight (which is to say, all of it, as it is a pretty dense sci-fi story) are explained through expository dialogue that is nonsensical. The science of the story is true only because the characters tell us it is, but Kultgen puts forth little effort to make it so. What we’re left with is a universe that is as bland as it is utterly confounding. If there is any silver lining, it’s Piotr Kowalski’s art. There are a few cool pages where we get to see some creative creatures and Kowalski has a lot of fun playing with the sci-fi themes. But most of Kowalski’s art is handcuffed by a story dense with dull exposition

Darklight wants to be a sweeping sci-fi epic. But it isn’t. It’s confusing. It’s silly. It’s boring. It’s just a mess.

 

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Craig Schroeder
Author: Craig Schroeder View all posts by
I am a graduate of Florida State University, studying Creative Writing and History. Right now I work a desk job but I dream all day of making a living writing comics. I formed an indie label based in Tallahassee called Gentleman Baby Comics and HIT! is our debut comic. I read a lot of comics. I watch a lot of movies. I drink too much soda. I love a great television show.

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