Dark Fang #1
Out this week from Image Comics is the story of a vampire named Valla attempting to navigate the modern world. This introductory issue packs in a lot of exposition. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to follow or successfully executed. For a book with an interesting premise and some great artwork, Dark Fang #1 is a big disappointment from Image.
Dark Fang #1 focuses (or attempts to focus) on a female vampire, Valla, who is navigating the modern world. It opens with a cam girl chatroom, featuring such internet gems as, “Let me smell your farts,” and, “Would you let anyone deep fry your tampon?” This leads to the vampiress becoming a cam girl to make money and using her powers of control to get what she wants from her viewers. Overall, this feels like a cheap, shallow shot and there could have been many more interesting ways to frame the opening of the story.
As far as exposition goes in a first issue, this book is unorganized, convoluted, and confusing. Sure, if you are reading it for the hot vampire, you’re going to be just fine. But if you are interested in a cohesive story, this is not an impressive start. Following the main character through unclear time lapses and flashbacks is difficult in and of itself, but adding disconnected layers to the traditional vampire lore is even more confusing. Valla is not only a vampire, she is a former bride of Dracula, and also an ocean-dweller who befriended a shark, and now a cam girl and a billionaire buying her own castle.
The layers of story are not well-integrated, leaving the introduction to this character and her world feeling clunky, convoluted, and difficult to follow. The solicit teases a storyline revolving around Valla trying to save the world to preserve her food source, but that initial hook is not touched on in a significant way. This, coupled with overwrought narration from clueless Valla, who doesn’t understand cell phones, makes for a redundant, unsatisfying read.
The layout of this first issue is unfortunate because some of the story elements are interesting. Hopefully, in future issues, the story deviates from cheap humor, sexual focus, and clunky storytelling and increases the focus on the more intriguing, inventive plot elements. The first issue feels like five comics squeezed into one, and the course of the book remains unclear.
What does stand out about Dark Fang #1 is the art. Kelsey Shannon is well-known for his coloring, and the reasons why are very apparent in Dark Fang #1. The vibrant, stylized art adds a layer to the story that is missing from the script and brings the focus around to Valla’s journey and the humorous elements of the plot. In particular, Shannon’s ocean scenes are gorgeous, and the change in artistic tone helps navigate some of the more convoluted flashback scenes.
This comic is lettered by Taylor Esposito (Ghost Glyph Studios) and the lettering is the best part of the book. The narration and dialogue are not easy to follow, but Esposito’s bold lettering and coloring choices make the pages easier to navigate, despite the many layers of disconnected plot.
Overall, Dark Fang #1 is confusing and disappointing. The premise is interesting, but the actual issue takes so long to make the connection to the initial pitch that it is easy to lose interest. I picked up a comic about vampires and ended up with a strange comic about ocean friends and cam girls. I wish there had been a stronger narrative focus on the more original elements, like Valla’s time in the sea and her mutiny against her vampiric family. Hopefully, more of these elements are incorporated in the future. Unfortunately, the last few panels spell a future in Valla’s clueless journey through the modern world, which was a weak point for the first issue.
For an introductory issue to a new series, this is not a strong first step. Sometimes, squeezing all the information possible into one issue is a good thing, but in Dark Fang #1, it produces a disconnected, confusing comic that is difficult to follow and even more difficult to enjoy.
What are your feelings of the first issue of Dark Fang? A new favorite or a new bummer? Let us know in the comments!
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