Dark Ark #4 Review: Look out for the Manticore

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The vampiric siege of the Dark Ark continues, as the legions of Nex begin to corner the human occupants. While Shrae proves himself resistant to feeding, the others prove not as lucky. Thankfully, aid comes in the form of Kruul the Manticore. He may hold no love for the humans, but he now holds even less affection for the vampires.

Dark Ark #4 cover by Juan Doe
Dark Ark #4 cover by Juan Doe

This issue immediately conceptually improves on the last with the inclusion of Kruul the Manticore. Beyond simply being one of the coolest mythological creatures ever conceived by humanity, Kruul is an interesting character. Despite coming off as intellectually hindered, he has complex motivations. First and foremost, he does like to feed on humans. However, he knows Nex views him as nothing more than a fool. Beyond that, he knows, to some capacity, the humans will keep him alive and well longer than Nex. It's a mixture of pride and survival, and he brings a lot to the table in this issue.

Beyond Kruul, this book is also an improvement on the previous by bringing more hefty action than the fairly slow murder mystery of last issue. We get to see the passengers of the Dark Ark tear through the followers of Nex.

While vampires are still one of the less interesting creatures Dark Ark could draw upon for an antagonist, Cullen Bunn and Juan Doe have at least brought together a decent visual design for these vampires. The more animalistic and demonic version of the monster is used, and Nex's minions look all the better for it.

That being said, Juan Doe's art does leave something to be desired. While it is certainly apt at displaying motion and action, the lack of distinct detail and shape leaves many panels visually confusing. Scenes can be a mess, and it is very easy to get many of the human characters confused. Kruul looks quite cool in some scenes, but this is soured somewhat by how bad Nex often looks.

Doe has similar issues to R. B. Silva's art style, even if Doe at least has unique aesthetic to bolster his work. As such, some solid inking work could do a world of wonders for Dark Ark.

Doe's color work is quite good, though. It's quite atmospheric and adds a layer of malevolence to the world of the comic.

Dark Ark #4 is a fun read with some interesting characters. Shrae and Kruul do a lot for the book with their respective gravitas. The art is rough and visually confusing, even if it does have some decent panels scattered throughout. Unfortunately, the art is dire enough that my recommendation of this book is tentative. If you can look past the aesthetic mess for the fun occult themes, then I can recommend it to you. Bear this in mind should you run across it at your local comic shop.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.
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