DARK AGES #1/ Script by TOM TAYLOR/ Art by IBAN COELLO/ Colors by BRIAN REBER/ Letters by VC’S JOE SABINO/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Apart from killing off your favorite characters in brilliant yet horrifying ways, writer Tom Taylor is perhaps most famous for two things: being confused with Tom King and writing dystopian timeline stories. Taylor first found fame and acclaim working on the comic book adaptation of Injustice: Gods Among Us, adding surprising depth to what otherwise might have been an ordinary video game tie-in. Later, he crafted a DC Comics-based zombie apocalypse around a horrifying interpretation of the Anti-Life Equation in DCeased. Now, Taylor is doing something similar with Marvel’s new mini-series Dark Ages.
It spoils little to reveal that this first issue is mostly set-up for Taylor’s brave new world and that it is not a happy story, for the most part. (Well, what did you expect with a title like Dark Ages?!) It is, however, a solid basis for a What If…? style story, but with far greater depth as befits a concept meant to last beyond a single issue. The only major change from the status quo is that, in this reality, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson have a daughter (named May Parker, naturally) who is still a precocious toddler, that has inherited her father’s powers and drives her mother up the wall by climbing on the ceiling. Taylor’s love of these beloved characters and his knowledge of them remains unmatched and is apparent in every page of this comic, even as noble sacrifices are made to ensure that the Earth survives this disaster, albeit not entirely unscathed.
The artwork by Iban Coello matches Taylor’s dialogue in complexity and nuance. Coello’s character designs are reminiscent of Todd McFarlane’s – not so much in appearance as in how detailed and dynamic they are. The color art by Brian Reber proves similarly skillful, providing the perfect finishes to the final product along with the well-crafted lettering provided by VC’s Joe Sabino.
Based on this first chapter, Dark Ages seems poised to become Marvel Comics’ next Age of Apocalypse. Given the talent involved, however, I suspect it will be far better. MCU Fans who have yet to give the source material a try after watching What If…? would do well to check out this series. So would everyone else.