It is very rare to find a story that is genuinely new. Most stories have a generic plot, and find themselves seeking innovation through the manner in which the story is told rather than through the events of the narrative. With Dark Matter, Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have created just about the closest thing to a new plot that has come around in a while.
The story picks up from the cliffhanger of the previous issue, dumping the reader into a space battle sequence. It is difficult to make any action sequence in space look visually dynamic. Ordinarily, figures can convey a sense of motion through their pose and expression. Spaceships have none of these, relying mostly on foreshortening. Then there is the added handicap of having a background full of nothing but stars, which is perhaps the least dynamic of all backgrounds. Garry Brown and Ryan Hill overcome these obstacles with a very liberal use of color. Taking full advantage of the freedom in comics to eschew realism, there are lines of color everywhere that indicate the motion in a clear and exciting way. Despite any point of references in the environment and the interspersing of space scenes with interior scenes, there reader is never confused about the content of any of the panels. This is quite an achievement and gets the issue off to a hot start.
The issue uses the falling action to set up a few more mysteries while developing characters and their relationships to good effect. The only splash page in this comic is the last (more on this in a second) and it pays off in this middle section of the story. There is a lot going on, and this is a comic best read slow. The different plots and subplots are brewing and creating tension in otherwise uneventful scenes.
The ending of this comic is amazing, not only in its conception, but also in its execution. The false revelation of the ship’s mission sets up the true reveal perfectly. Like every good twist, everything that came before in the story must now be reevaluated by the reader. It is not often that a comic series rewards rereading after only two issues, but here it is. And perhaps more importantly, all bets are off as to the future of this plot. If this issue does not get a reader hooked on this series, they must simply not appreciate the genre.
The only fault that can be found is in the portrayal of the youngest member of the crew. It is not until the eighteenth page of this comic that a bit of dialogue reveals that the youngest member of the crew is actually female. The artist could have made her gender much clearer from the start; this reader assumed the character was male.
Minor quibbles aside, this issue is one of the best comics that has come around in a while. Perhaps the only disappointment is that it is only slated to be a four-issue miniseries. Do not miss this book.