REVIEW: ‘Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dark One

From #1 New York Times Bestselling, Hugo Award-winning author, Brandon Sanderson, comes an original graphic novel, Dark One. From Vault Comics, written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, with art by Nathan Gooden, colors by Kurt Michael Russell, and letters by Andworld Design, this graphic novel is definitely one to pick up from your local comic store.

Dark One opens with a young man, Paul Tanasin, speaking to a therapist. He has just moved out of his mother’s home and gotten his own place on the promise that he would go get professional help. However, what is really bothering him isn’t something he’s quite yet willing to share. Paul is haunted by visions from another world that is both fantastic and dark. He’s also haunted by a girl only he can see and who claims she is his sister despite all evidence saying otherwise. Terrified of what these visions could mean, Paul is soothed by his belief that they are just hallucinations. However, after getting attacked by a knight and taking his sword, Paul stumbles into the fantastical world of his visions: Mirandus. What is to become of Paul? Who is the Dark One and what do all these prophecies mean for Paul?

The first plunge into Dark One is a confusing one. The first dozen or so pages of the novel are filled with odd words and sights as the protagonist sees things and talks to a person that isn’t corporeal. We don’t know how the world of Mirandus is connected with Paul and the modern world, and Paul is no closer to the answers than we are. At this stage, the insanity that Paul is feeling really comes through the dialogue and his interactions with others. Just as Paul is kept in the dark about the narrative unfolding around him, so too are the readers. And it’s all this confusion that makes for a great mystery as the story unfolds and the dots are connected. By the end of the comic, everything comes full circle and most of the holes in the plot are filled intelligently and satisfyingly.

The characters in Dark One are wonderfully written. There are a handful of female characters that are both powerful and plot-moving which is always a plus. Paul himself is a complex character. Although he comes into immense power after entering Mirandus, he’s awkward and completely out of his element. Even though he’s young, Paul is thrown into a narrative that requires him to make hard choices and the fact that the route he chooses isn’t an easy one becomes glaringly obvious through his dialogue. Paul is both at times childish and wise, but overall always caring about others above himself.

Dark One

Dark One analyses the duality of light and dark in both a fantastical society, Mirandus, but also our own reality here on Earth. Through Paul’s story, Dark One elucidates the duality in each of us—the ability to be both a savior and a destroyer. Being one does not inherently exclude the other. It is this grayness in right and wrong that this graphic novel explains and builds upon, making it so much more than just a casual read.

The art plays into this duality. The two worlds in Dark One are constantly juxtaposed visually; one is modern the other from a bygone age. The clothes people wear, the way people speak, and the beliefs and customs are vastly different. Gooden’s art is astounding and depicts these two worlds perfectly. On top of this, the characters are drawn so emotively that a single look says more than words alone could ever.

The colors go hand in hand with the art and really set the tone of each panel. They are wonderfully expressive and Russell has a way of showcasing symbolism and highlighting portions of panels with the use of specific colors, such as red in violent situations. Andworld Design’s letters let the story lead. The speech bubbles are easy to follow from panel to panel and don’t clutter the scenes so that the art shines through.

In the end, there are still a few questions I had left, but these minor plot holes do little to dampen the impact of Dark One’s story. This a brilliant graphic novel that has some amazing themes delving into the duality of man and light and dark. The creative team tells Paul’s story beautifully, making sure that this novel will leave an impact.

Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Brandon Sanderson's Dark One
4.5

TL;DR

In the end, there are still a few questions I had left, but these minor plot holes do little to dampen the impact of Dark One’s story. This a brilliant graphic novel that has some amazing themes delving into the duality of man and light and dark. The creative team tells Paul’s story beautifully, making sure that this novel will leave an impact.