Darkness Visible #2 ComicWow! Review

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Mike Carey worked on Unwritten, Lucifer, Girl with All the Gifts, Hellblazer, 2000AD, X-Men: Legacy, and more.

Arvind Ethan David’s credits include Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, but he is more known for his work as a film producer and screenwriter.  His credits include Tormented, Dirk, Faintheart, French Film, Sugarhouse, The Infidel, and an upcoming supernatural action film called “Wake.”

Brendan Cahill’s art work includes Transformers and the webcomic Outside the Box.  He’s also a writer with credits including Silver Sable and Morbius.

The comic is set in London, in a world with a demon terrorist problem, in addition to the “normal” demonic crime problems. The police (now referred to as Cyclops) are overwhelmed.

A police detective is inexplicably still alive after what should have been fatal injuries.  He was in an ambulance with his daughter and a dead demon.  After a severe accident, he appears to have been possessed by a demon, yet he does not show any outward signs of possession. His daughter is alive, but in a coma.  The Police Department puts him back on the street.  They don’t entirely trust him, but his uncertain status (Shaithan?  Human?  Both?  Neither?) gives him access that his human peers do not have.

In this issue, readers are given a great deal of insight into the demon society.  The demons are not monolithic; some groups have clearly known objectives, while other group agendas are hidden.

Carey and David’s writing is simultaneously straightforward and layered.  At once this is a police story with a terrorist angle, but it is also a science-fiction/supernatural story with a lot of exposition.  These storytellers are creating an entirely new and unique universe.  Their London is very real, but at the same time, it is also different.  Like the best science fiction, the similarities and differences between their world and ours complement each other.

Cahill’s artwork is balanced. He has to simultaneously make artwork that would fit a police story and a fantasy/supernatural story.  He succeeds quite well.  He balances his artwork to match the writing emphasis in the issue.  There are scenes of implied gore, but nothing too severe.  In this issue, his work tends to emphasize the realistic elements over the fantasy.

If there is a fault with this comic, it is that it is too short. This very capable creative team is constrained by the short (23 pages + cover) format of the standard comic. They are working to establish not only the demons, but the intricacy of their society, and their interrelationship with/impact on human society.  At the same time, they are introducing an entire cast of human characters as well.  This is a huge task to accomplish in the monthly comic format.  In most cases, writers and artists are dealing primarily with established characters in a known universe, and exposition is minor.  Here, they have to simultaneously introduce/create an alternate reality, introduce characters, establish relationships, motivations, etc., and create/advance a complex plot.

Comics like Darkness Visible are a compelling argument for longer standard issue comics.  It’s well- written and well-illustrated, but needs to be longer. This is a talented creative team with a story to tell; they deserve the space to do it.

Written by: Mike Carey & Arvind Ethan David

Illustrated by: Brendan Cahill