“Dark Engine” is hauntingly alluring. It’s brutal and poetic, and will keep you on your toes for the entire read. It’s unlike anything else being publishing in comics right now, and it’s dark presence beckons you to be part of it. This is a stellar first issue that offers nothing but mystery and I couldn’t be more invested.
WRITTEN BY: Ryan Burton
ART BY: John Thomas Bivens
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: July 16, 2014
“Dark Engine” begins with a beautifully communicated bit of voiceover. It’s a darkly poetic description of the world you’re entering and gently introduces the character of Sym before Bivens rips a fucking hole through the page.
Sym is an unstoppable force. She rips through any sort of challenge and makes short work of it, before economically harvesting the bodies of slain beasts to create tools of destruction. She’s been sent back in time to save a plagued world, but the people who sent her back fear the engine that powers her will ultimately fail.
Ryan Burton makes an incredible debut to his world that doesn’t skimp on the necessary details but doesn’t feed enough exposition to bore. Instead he leaves the characters and world to speak for themselves, and we get the idea that the world of “Dark Engine” is much larger than this singular issue could ever show us. Which is exactly what you want in a debut.
John Bivens has a dayjob as a butcher, and when you look at these pages you’ll see a seamless blend of his two worlds. He makes evisceration an art, by masterfully bisecting any sort of insane creature he’s introduced to the page in a flurry of calculated gore. His coloring is superb and every page feels cooly alien but wonderfully communicated. You get a complete feel for this strange world and a tease of the creatures that inhabit it.
What guides Sym is somewhat mysterious. We’re left to assume it’s the titular “Dark Engine.” But it’s unclear what gives her such a strong conviction as she pushes forward. Yet, even without speaking a single word we understand her. She’s Kratos without the melodramatic hatred of the Gods to bog down her dialogue. She’s conviction personified.
Then you have the final pages of this issue. It’s a mindfuck of epic proportions that will likely have your jaw on the floor. But, you’ll quickly understand why Image picked this up straight to ongoing series. There is an incredible amount of depth here in the story and we’ve only scratched the surface.
“Dark Engine” is hauntingly beautiful and unique. It beckons you in with poetic dialogue and captivates you with visceral force. Get it on your pull list immediately.