Monday, April 27, 2015

Dark Engine, Volume 1

Ryan Burton,, Dark Engine, Volume 1: The Art of Destruction. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, 2014. ISBN: 9781632151766.

Genre: Graphic novels and comics
Subgenre: apocalyptic, horror, science fiction
Format: e-book.
Source: Electronic galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for honest review. 

From the book's description:

"The world is cracked and in ruin. The air is full of dead men's ashes, fallen colossi smother the earth with their decayed husks, and infectious monsters roam freely.

In their desperation, a group of alchemists have created a killer named Sym from obscene magic, outfitting her with an engine that will allow her to travel back in time to stop whatever it was that made their world so.

But the alchemists don't realize that the engine is sentient, that their unstoppable killer is powered by the seed of their destruction.

Newcomers Ryan Burton and John Bivens present the opening arc to what industry veteran JH Williams III (Sandman: Overture, Batwoman, Promethea) describes as "an otherworldly horrific poetic movement that is immediately immersive."

Collects Dark Engine #1-4." 

I wanted to like this one more, but there were two issues with it. One, the story is very convoluted. In spite of the book description, the author tosses the reader right into it with very minimal introduction or set up. You have an idea about the alchemists and Sym, but that is about it. At times you are just not sure why Sym does the actions she does; it seems she is a killer for the sake of killing. I can kind of get that, if that is the case, I am not sure. Other elements, like the pilot, I simply could not fully grasp. The other issue was the art. It is colorful, and it can be gruesome; that is perfectly fine by me. But it is also very cluttered. This is a case of the artist packing way too much stuff into the frames.

In the end, this could be a case that I may need to read it again. However, it seems more a case of this is a pretty messy story that goes from one subplot to another, often with minimal transition, unclear motivations, and cluttered art. I could appreciate the craft of the art overall though; the plot not so much, which was a mess. I may or not seek out the next volume.

It was just OK, so it gets 2 out of 5 stars.

This book qualifies for the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

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