Review – Dark Ages #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art and Cover: Iban Coello
Colour artist: Brian Reber
Letterer VC’s Joe Sabino
Release Date: 6 October 2021
Non Spoiler Review
What I love about reviewing more than one book in a series like I am with Marvel’s Dark Ages, is that when moving onto a new issue, I’m free to talk about the events of the previous issue without worrying about spoiling anything. In issue one we saw that a ‘being of immense power’, the Unmaker had awoken inside this alternate Earth created by Tom Taylor and was beginning to unmake the world from within.
The Unmaker, ‘a living machine’, was sealed within this Earth before it formed billions of years ago after it was decommissioned by the Living Tribunal. The Unmaker had been made to protect the universe, by who or what we don’t know just yet, maybe it’s not important. Consuming dark holes as part of it’s role of protector over millennia before ‘our’ time, corrupted it and it started to unmake everything. This prompted the Living Tribunal to step in, who couldn’t kill but stopped him as best as he and set this story up. A crack team of supes, each chosen to deal with aspects of the Unmaker as outlined by man of the hour Uatu the Watcher of both the What If…? Disney + series and the original comic book series.
Uatu who famously has sworn an oath to only watch man and never interfere, yet nearly always interferes was very adamant that this is super serious, this is what he has ‘been watching for’. With Uatu’s council a task force of heroes were assembled to deal with specific parts of the Unmaker’s being. Doctor Strange, Sue Storm, The Thing, the Scarlet Witch and her robo beau the Vision journeyed to the center of the Earth to save the day.
Thinking back if this was so grave why weren’t more heroes sent to save the day? Because the Unmaker unmade them pretty quickly, with only Sue Storm surviving. Doctor Strange before he met his end opened a portal to a universe of E.M.P. to stop the Unmaker. He succeeded in halting him and sending the Invisible Woman back to the surface of the Earth before he was killed by the Unmaker in it’s last attack. Unfortunately Strange was unable to close the portal to the E.M.P. universe but he didn’t manage to close the portal to the E.M.P. universe which resulted in the titular Dark Ages.
As I mentioned above, the fact that Unmaker was set up as such a threat in the first issue of Dark Ages and just five heroes were sent to deal with him has kind of bugged me over time. Only kind of though, it was a plan laid out by this Marvel universe’s smartest people who were given advice from Uatu. Each of the fallen heroes were chosen based on their powers to deal with certain aspects of the Unmaker.
The ruckus the monster was making at the center of the Earth was sending shockwaves around the world so there was plenty for the other heroes to deal with. Ok, I’ve moved past my nitpicking. Tom Taylor’s writing helps with that. These specially picked five are based on his fascination with the ins and outs of superpowers. He seems to like to show powered beings combo their powers or at least having them work in tandem in captivating ways.
It was an important part of X-Men Red’s resolution in particular, it was an important part of last issue and without getting into specifics it is a very important part of this issue. It’s now years later the E.M.P. universe portal is still making the use the use of electricity impossible. So without that power, Taylor has looked at how these heroes have used their powers to adjust to that. It makes for good reading for a nerd-nerd like myself. I had the same sense when reading X-Men Red. I felt that Tom Taylor had spent lots and lots of time thinking about how super powers worked. The practicalities of them, the day to day of them. What was it like to be telepath? How exactly does it work? Like if there was a user manual for being a telepath, what topics would it cover?
That superhero-y part of the story is very well realised, it gives a lovely sense of comfort as Peter Parker narrates us through the processes of this new world and how super powers have replaced electrical power. He asks ‘Who says a postapocalyptic world has to be a bad place?’, … Tom Taylor might be one person saying that. There’s wolves at the gate. Who exactly they are and the threat they pose is not apparent at first. It takes us right out of the comfort we feel at the start of the book very quickly once we see what our heroes have to deal with .
Iban Coello again does the cover and interior art for #2 of Dark Ages and he is once aided by Brian Reber on colours and VC’s Joe Sabino as a letterer who help to build the world. The story is still dealing mostly with set up so there isn’t a crazy amount of action for the team to depict. What’s there is equally as potent as last time with characters imbued with the energy that this world is missing. Movement in Coello’s work is well captured, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the return of the bigger action set pieces we saw in the teaser in the 2020 Free Comic Book day X-Men issue and issue one.
That’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying the art of the quieter moments, the acting is uber expressive. Then there’s the revamped costume designs to bring the familiar faces of the Marvel universe into the dystopian world of Dark Ages. Some haven’t changed that much or at all but it’s interesting to see when they do. Spider-man doesn’t feel the need to don a mask but Daredevil keeps the tradition going. Captain America looses the cowl but adopts a cloak. Most choices are what you might expect for a postapocalyptic story but they’re still fun. The Apocalypse of Dark Ages is on the upper scale of hulking-ness. Sure he has control over his molecules but it’s notable how big he is. It sets him as a danger when might have gotten used to a slightly friendlier suit wearing version of him in Krakoa.
In reviewing Dark Ages #2 I can safely say I’m really liking this story. The first two issues have covered a lot of ground as far as set up. We’ve had a lot of exposition but it’s had it’s fair share of smart ideas, heart, horror, action and gorgeous art. We’re now poised to get into the meat of the story and I want to dig in.
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