You know how they say variety is the spice of life? Well, some might argue that the same principle applies when it comes to comics. Not every issue, debut or otherwise, is a home run. But does my ominous intro reveal my thoughts on the debut issue of Dark Fang?
I know that the majority of you, my constant readers, aren’t looking for the shortcut or the hack. You’re far more intelligent than the average, a blue chip player and a diamond in the rough. And so, you wouldn’t just stop reading after I say that maybe Dark Fang #1 isn’t the easiest book for readers to sink their teeth into. Whilst slipshod in places, the book wasn’t as watered-down and soulless as this one standout failure that Marvel put out months ago. (I won’t mention the comic, but I’ll say that I’d reviewed this debut issue months ago, and received the vitriol of a bona fide reviewer type whose opinion people pay to read. Write me and I’ll reveal all.) But was I being too harsh with that comic that didn’t leave a lovely aftertaste in my mouth? Was the bona fide reviewer right in judging/hating on me for telling my truth? This isn’t terra nova guys, so let me be implicit with the answer to that question.
Dark Fang is a brilliant reminder that comics need to vary in style and delivery. Not everyone is looking for the meaning of life in these panels. Sometimes we just want to kick back and relax and have something to take our minds off of the grind. And I hear your next question gentle reader : what’s at stake when we can’t sink our teeth into Dark Fang? Well my friends, we can get all meta about this and say that the creative trio of writer Miles Gunter, artist Kelsey Shannon and letterer Taylor Esposito are trying to remind us about the pointlessness of our lives and that the real wisdom lies in enjoying the ride while we can and not be a dick to our fellow human beings, the creatures we share this world with and to the world itself! How’s that for anti-cynical? I don’t know what the good folks I just named were aiming for in the debut, but I can say that it was a fun read, despite the few tell-tale rookie elements in certain areas.
Dark Fang does a great job of disguising social commentary as the thoughts of a meandering vampire who is out of time. Despite her tragicomic backstory, she doesn’t seem to bear the cross of loneliness as say a Lestat, or Frankenstein’s monster did in their own stories. She has found a way to land on her feet by exploiting the inhabitants of the world she is now a part of and apart from, which makes us wonder how much of that is taking place around us without us even realising it. Does your government really care about you? Oh snap! I hope I don’t upset anyone by speaking my mind about political stuff! And so close to Christmas too! What will Santa make of this?
Like many bands during the whole nu-metal tsunami of the late 90s and early 2000s, it seems that the creative team decided to keep things ambiguous on their cover. Simply going by the cover page we can only assume that the figure of a fanged woman biting into a globe is a grotesque Eve with the fruit of the forbidden tree. The theme of temptation continues on the following pages as she learns about the art of seduction and control and how to wield her powers over men and women. (P.S. let’s give Gunter, Shannon and Esposito props for making it clear that females can dig females too and that doesn’t have to be weird.) I’m not giving this debut issue any votes for comic of the year or anything, but the optimist buried somewhere within the realist that is me believes that past all the sleek feminine curves and blatant sexuality there are hidden messages out there for anyone willing to look a little closer and just a little deeper into the darkness.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the creative heads of Dark Fang got their share of fan(g) mail based on this debut issue. Is this going to win any Eisner Awards this season? Probably not. Is this the pinnacle of comic book writing in these hideous, heartless times? I wouldn’t say so. But fuck it dude, it’s a fun read, the way any horror comic ought to be. Besides, it’s just the debut issue. Who cares that we haven’t been given the protagonist’s name other than on the mail page? Let’s just keep reading with our fingers crossed. Stay gangsta.
Writer – Miles Gunter
Artist – Kelsey Shannon
Letterer – Taylor Esposito