A Dark Interlude #1 Review: A Fearscape Sequel For New Readers?

A Dark Interlude is marketed by Vault Comics as a kind-of-sequel to Fearscape. In reading the first issue, it makes quite the metatextual commentary about sequels, essentially telling the reader, multiple times, that while this is a follow-up story, it's also something entirely new. Let's see if that's true.

A Dark Interlude #1 cover. Credit: BOOM! Studios
A Dark Interlude #1 cover. Credit: BOOM! Studios

A Dark Interlude #1 is written by Ryan O'Sullivan, illustrated by Andrea Mutti, colored by Vladimir Popov, and lettered by AndWorld Design. It opens with a letter from the narrator to his readership, to whom he apologizes for being a plagiarist and a murderer. It's a compelling read and a daring move, as most comics readers aren't prepared for two pages of prose at the start of a book. Normally, writers who include prose passages will warm readers up with a full issue of comics and then hit them with prose at the end, Alan Moore style, but the gutsy O'Sullivan starts with this letter off rip. This pays off, as we learn enough about the narrator, Henry Henry, to make us deeply intrigued by the time we start the comics portion of the issue.

Now, the mythology behind Fearscape is terrific. O'Sullivan catches the reader up on everything they need to know with an efficient exposition that reels the reader in rather than overwhelming them. Readers unfamiliar with Fearscape will also find themselves, after reading the letter at the start of A Dark Interlude, surprised by the intricacy of the fantasy world at play here and how the grounded, potentially sociopathic human who wrote the letter is involved.

All said, A Dark Interlude #1 is interesting, but one bit that stuck out was how different Henry Henry's voice is in his letter than in the narration throughout the comic. The narration really hammers in the themes and symbolism over and over again, with Henry's performative second-guessing himself and his telling of the story grating on the reader because of how much it is overdone. This doesn't ruin A Dark Interlude, which is a well-told story, but the directness of the letter was certainly missed as Henry Henry switched from the prose intro to the comic's narrator for the main part of the story.

The art from Mutti and Popov is great in parts and lackluster in others. There is next to no expressive action in the characters, with their faces essentially always deadpan. There is even a part where the narrator references a character smiling, to which the only question a reader looking at the page would be able to must is, "Is she, though!?" Where Mutti and especially colorist Popov excel is the fantasy world of the Fearscape, where character action matters less, and genre whimsy has more impact.

Overall, A Dark Interlude #1 is good, if inconsistent, start to a sequel that new readers should have no problem enjoying.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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