Dark Souls #1 starts with eerie scenes of post-battle castles. In pages designed to look like the frayed remains of parchment filled ledgers, we learn of the Age of Fire and the dawning of man. Baron Karaman, who believing that the last breath of the Wyrm King would give eternal life and wanting to be immortal, hunts down the last dragon and kills it. Karaman is cursed to burn forever for the damnation he has brought on his people, and the Flame that had shone against the darkness dwindles with the ages.
Then the story begins. The warmth of a family hearth cools quickly until all is decay and zombiefication. The thing that is worse than death is the thing that comes after.
Wide blue eyes focus us on the surprise of Fira, a Lady Knight who faces Aldrich, a scryer, around a fire in the Crystallin Labyrinth, but she only remembers him when he shows her the poppet (a homemade rag doll). Fira’s memories are being lost. Aldrich tells her she must never forget, her memories are why they are there. It is their quest to recover the Tooth of Andolus, the Wyrm.
Stepping inside, the pair are set upon by the remains of a man, but the skeletal form is quickly despatched. Forced to do so by the power of the labyrinth, Fira relives her memories and we see the little girl with the poppet at the dying hearth. We see Fira’s rise to the knighthood. But the power that controls the labyrinth is using her memories against her. Using her family to trap her. Making her fight her memories.
Finally she must face the man I assume is the Baron. If she it to recover the tooth, she must defeat him…
I was not sure what to expect when I got sent Dark Souls, but I was kind of captivated from the first glimpse of the cover. I loved the artwork straight off, but didn’t open the comic for a while as the quality of the cover is so often so much better than the quality of the artwork inside. I need not have worried - Alan Quah delights throughout. Every panel demonstrates detail and movement, and for a comic about death, there is a lot life in these images. I particularly like the panel where Fira opens her eyes in the labyrinth. Her nose isn’t bridged enough there, but the eyes are wonderfully drawn. The next page has another close up of Fira, when she recognises the poppet. Beautiful artwork for a beautiful woman. Have to say that the colourist did a fine job on this one too.
One thing I didn’t like on this - Fira’s armour. Generally speaking, the armour is well drawn, with plates in most of the right place, and yet it still bothers me. Now, okay guys I know that even in armour a comic book chick must look sexy, after all, heaven forbid a female character be all about the brains, brawn or ability, but still - elastic armour? And yes, it has to be elastic or she couldn’t rear back as she does on page 12 and have the back-plates curl the way they do or the front/belly-plate stretch to match her body from pubis to sternum without popping free at some point. And as for the chest-plate! Well we’ve all seen her Cross Your Heart bras that lift and separate, which it does, on page 12. But the armour itself has a cleavage on the last panel of page 11. If you drew a man in armour with the same sensibilities would he have a foot long cod-piece? Yeah, calm down, that’s it, rant over, and back to the praise.
Dark Souls tells a great deal of its story in pictures, there’s an usual and welcome brevity of captioning and speech bubbles. That being said, George Mann's writing works well for this issue. There’s good pace, and plenty of trials to test the characters.
I might not have started reading this one too quickly, but once I did, it held my attention from start to end and left me wanting more. I can’t wait for the next issue.
Issue one of Dark Souls is a really good start to the title, let’s hope they can keep it up. I’m afraid the lack of a bridge and elastic armour cost this one a point, so it's a four out of five from me.
Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out www.gailbwilliams.co.uk - Dare you!