It’s been over two years since news broke about Universal’s Dark Universe being canceled. It was Universal Picture’s eager attempt to use their classic monsters and place them into one franchise, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From early reviews of The Mummy, it was almost certain that their attempt would end up being scrapped. As a long-time fan of the horror genre, I was devastated that the other Universal Monsters wouldn’t be getting their own films. However, while attending the Wizard World Bay Area convention this year, I came across a comic series that not only included several of the Universal Monsters but also offered an original story. After a brief conversation with the series creator, I had hope that Cover of Darkness Volume One would deliver both horror and a memorable story.
Cover of Darkness Volume One, which is published by XiX Publishing, is written by George Michail and Sam Cam, illustrated by MJ Hiblen, and lettered by Nikki Powers. The main story follows a family that lives in medieval Romania. When the story starts, the kids have gotten in trouble and are chased by a merchant, with one of the kids being injured. One of the adults stays behind to heal the kid while the rest of the family go on to hunt. As the group is chasing a wild boar, they are attacked by werewolves. They attempt to escape but end up separating from one another. The family must find a way to reunite while also being hunted by unknown forces. Also included in this volume are several origin stories of monsters that will undoubtedly show up in the series.
I was completely blown away with the designs of the monsters and the overall horror vibe that the first volume of Cover of Darkness has. As seen in the preview image above, the way the Ringmaster is designed would be enough to give me nightmares. What makes it even more horrifying is that this interaction reminds me of the Doctor Faustus play. The panels where the family is running through the forest as they try to get away from the werewolves could easily transition into a scene from a horror film. On top of that, the designs of the other creatures adds to the level of horror, which I really appreciate. I’m looking forward to see just how unique and scary the monster designs can truly get.
Unfortunately, the creature design isn’t enough to hide a major flaw within the first volume of Cover of Darkness. While I appreciate the stories of the monsters and the flashbacks, there were several times where they took my attention away from the main story. Just when the main plot was getting interesting and it seemed like something big was about to happen, a side story would be added. I didn’t see the correlation between the main story and the side stories.
I can only hope that they’re added to set up monsters that will show up further down in the series. There was also no real introduction to any of the characters, making it more difficult to follow what was going on. Whenever I would get a glimpse of what was going on, my attention would deviate because of the constant transitions from story to story.
I had such high hopes for Cover of Darkness Volume One, but it ultimately did not deliver. The horror aspect was well done and I quite enjoyed how the creatures were designed. It perfectly fits the realm of an adaptation of a Universal Monster story. However, the story itself must carry the comic more than the art for me to find it enjoyable. It also didn’t help that the way the book was designed made it more difficult to read. I’m hoping that the rest of the series improves, especially since the overall premise is quite unique.
Cover of Darkness Volume 1 is available for purchase on Michail’s official website.
Cover of Darkness Volume 1
I had such high hopes for Cover of Darkness Volume One, but it ultimately did not deliver.