ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Dark Ages,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dark Ages #1 - But Why Tho

Dark Ages #1 is written by Tom Taylor, illustrated by Iban Coello, colored by Brian Reber, and lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino. It is published by Marvel Comics. A series of earthquakes leads to the revelation that a cosmic machine known as the Unmaker resides in the center of the Earth. And when it awakens, true to its name it will unmake the entire universe. A group of heroes engages the Unmaker in battle, and the aftermath leaves the entire Earth stripped of technology: in effect, knocked into a new Dark Age.

The series was first teased in Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day 2020 story, but the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately led to its delay. I’d say that the wait was worth it as the creative team takes a great premise and sells the hell out of it. Most of Marvel’s heroes use technology in their adventures, or have origins steeped in science, so the idea of losing that element poses some interesting questions. What would happen if Ant-Man was stuck in skyscraper size? What happens when Iron Man’s armor shorts out when he’s in midair? The answers set up a new alternate universe that I can’t wait to explore in future issues.

A large part of what makes this universe work is Taylor’s scripting. While Taylor is no stranger to forming alternate universes, especially over at DC with Injustice and DCeased, this feels significantly less dark than those previous series. Taylor chooses to tell the story from Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s point of view, returning to write the web-slinger for the first time since his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man series, which leads to both hilarious and heartfelt moments with Peter, his wife Mary Jane Watson, and their daughter May who has inherited her father’s spider-powers. Choosing to have Spidey as the focal point makes sense not only from a selling point but a thematic one: this is a character who always chooses to stand and fight, no matter the odds.

Coello, who previously illustrated Donny Cates’s run on Venom, has the chance to illustrate a collection of Marvel characters from different corners of the universe. From the Fantastic Four to members of the X-Men, and even Peter’s fellow spider-powered hero Miles Morales, there’s at least one hero for every Marvel fan. Even Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur make an appearance. Coello also draws a bombastic fight scene between a collection of heroes and the Unmaker, which feels as epic as you’d expect. Characters are given new designs such as a steampunk style for Spider-Man that comes with jury-rigged web-shooters and a gold and blue outfit for Apocalypse representing his origins in Ancient Egypt. Reber renders all of this art in rich, vibrant color that grows darker as shadows fall across the sky.

Dark Ages #1 launches a new version of the Marvel Universe which subverts the usual dystopia tropes and features top-notch work from its creative team. Fans of Taylor and Coello’s previous works will definitely want to add this to their pull list, while fans of books such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner will find a comic that hews to their tastes.

Dark Ages #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

Dark Ages #1
5

TL;DR

Dark Ages #1 launches a new version of the Marvel Universe which subverts the usual dystopia tropes and features top-notch work from its creative team. Fans of Taylor and Coello’s previous works will definitely want to add this to their pull list, while fans of books such as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner will find a comic that hews to their tastes.