Saturday, December 29, 2012

Darksiders II: Death's Door (Comic) - A Comic Fit for a Horseman

Among my many Christmas gifts, one of the things I received was a thin hardback collecting a digital comic tie-in to Darksiders II. Naturally I was curious about its contents and just decided to read it. Since I've read it from the hardback I was able to see the entire story in one shot, which I believe was the most effective way to read it. With that said, this is a video game comic that, while well-written, is still most effective as a tie-in.

The story, as scripted by Andrew Kreisberg and David Slagle, serves as a prequel to the video game Darksiders II. Bascially, Death is asked by the angel Abaddon to slay a demon in the White City that has killed several of his men. To accomplish his task, Death sets off to find the right weapon to do the job and even revisits a part of his past. Admittedly it's a pretty short story that can be read relatively quickly, if only due to the entire story being 60 pages long and operating somewhat under modern comics decompression. However, in that short space it is able to not only introduce certain characters and concepts that are important to the parent game, but also show us how exactly Death got his horse, Despair. When I read the dialogue, I was able to hear everyone's voice from the game in my head, a sign that the characterization was down pretty well. There is also a character that is introduced and then never appears within Darksiders ever again, but it seems to be a necessary evil to move the plot along. The script, then, does a good job at being a companion piece to the game, but isn't really much more than that, since the final panel advertises Darksiders II as a continuation. Still, I feel that under the circumstances, Kreisberg and Slagle did a good job.

However, a comic book cannot exist without its art, which I think is a highlight of this book. The combination of Roger Robinson's pencils/inks and Michael Atiyeh's colors really help the world of Darksiders II come to life on the page. There are plenty of large panels and splash pages in the book, but these also serve as a good way to showcase their talents. The art is very dynamic and has a sense of fluidity, which is effective for the many fight scenes and varied camera angles, along with highlighting big moments. At a couple of points there are scenes that take place in the past, and in one case another character's perspective, which the art is very good at with differentiating between. There are some beautiful shots of the River Styx and a mixture of light and dark tones that allow each environment to stand out and remain believable within the realms of the game. The characters also look the way they should, down to the proportions and scale, which shows that the duo actually knew what they were doing.

My only complaint about the hardback I read from would be the lack of a cover gallery. I'm used to comic book compilations supplying the covers to each issue either between issues or at the back, so the lack of them here either means that they all have the same cover online, which an internet search proved false, or Dark Horse decided not to do it for some reason. I feel a little robbed of being able to see more good art on display, but at least Joe Madureira and Avery Coleman's cover for the hardback is eye-catching and garners interest in Death's exploits. While passing between issues, I was also able to tell where each cover would probably have been, thanks in part to how each issue was written.

Overall, Darksiders II: Death's Door is a good companion piece for Darksiders II. The story is paced well, but is pretty short at only 60 pages for six issues (Issues 1-5 plus Best Buy's exclusive Issue 0). However the art makes up for this and is very complimentary to the action. It's a great read for fans of the Darksiders series, but outsiders should only really consider a read if they plan to play Darksiders II before or after; it just reads better that way.

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