Edgy. Black and White. Vignettes. The parallels between Twisted Dark Volumes 1 and 2 and Becky Cloonan and Brian Wood’s DEMO are hard to miss. Yet, while DEMO is at the hands of two comic book veterans, Twisted Dark comes from a comic book newcomer: Neil Gibson. Having self-published the first volume of Twisted Dark, the professionalism of Gibson’s acclaimed series is staggering, with quality some major publications lack.
One of these qualities is the nuance with which the publication is handled. Each of the stories told in Twisted Dark are independent of each other. They each have concrete endings and can be read as standalone comics. But the real magic comes when they are read as a package. As you move from story to story a finely crafted web is revealed, and some stories true endings do not come until another story’s beginning. It will leave you flipping back and forth to discover if your inklings are correct.
The writing remains constant as Gibson carries the reigns throughout, but the artist changes with each vignette. Because the tone of each story fluctuates, having a different artists for each vignette is a brilliant choice. Some of the talent use tight and controlled lines such as Antonio Balanquit Jr., while other stories benefit from the jagged edges of an artist like Caspar Wijngaard. Overall, the art is beautiful but a few standouts like Marc Olivent and Atula Siriwardane are truly breathtaking.
The only downside to the first volume of Twisted Dark is that its twists seem to come only at the end of a story and it gives the book a very M. Night Shyamalan-feel. However, this clears up by Volume 2. There are still unexpected twists at the end of each story, but the structure reveals these twists slightly (or even fully) sooner in the work.
Where Volume 1 has all the darkness its name promises, Volume 2 goes for a lighter touch. And while I appreciate the darkness of Volume 1, Volume 2’s “If Only…” is my favorite in the anthology (I won’t spoil the twist ending here for you but it is very charming). Gibson’s reasoning for the lighter nature of Volume 2 was a response to readers claiming Volume 1 was too dark. But have no fear, both volumes are equally good if in different ways. The horror in Volume 2 is more psychological, which to some may come off as lighter fare, but really those are the ones that keep you up at night.
The Twisted Dark franchise has now branched out into other genres as well, with titles such as Twisted Light and Twisted Fantasy. The Tpub website even perfectly lays out the books on a scale from dark to light, with Gibson’s Tortured Life being the only one that falls below Twisted Dark on the darkness scale.
When reading a comic – whether it be a superhero comic or horror – what you are looking for is a great story. Something that takes you away to a realm with different possibilities. If you are looking for some chilling stories that are out of the ordinary, then Twisted Dark is the comic for you. With beautiful art and fantastic storytelling it is sure to entertain even the most doubtful of horror fans.