David Collins either needs to rob a blood bank or start coming to terms with the fact that he can’t keep hiding his undead girlfriend in his room. And while she hungers, the evil part of Barnabas’ spirit is preparing to launch a new attack on both Collinwood and humans overall. Read on in this Major Spoilers review.
Excellent art, great characterization.
The current arc is dragging on a tad too long.
Previously in Dark Shadows: Barnabas’ soul has been split into two halves: one good, one evil. Yes, it’s kind of like that episode of “Star Trek,” except that there’s only one body to go around and Evil Barnabas is taking his sweet time with it.
ANOTHER QUALITY ISSUE
“Dark Shadows” No. 18 met, for the most part, the high standards I’ve come to expect from writer Mike Raight’s loving adaptation of what was essentially late 1960s daytime filler with production values approaching those of local car commercials. I’ve loved every issue I’ve read, but I’ve missed the last handful, so I was afraid of jumping into this one and getting lost in a new storyline—such was not the case.
Things have moved along rather slowly, it seems. David’s vampire girlfriend is still hiding out, there’s still some black-souled Other Barnabas leading a cabal of vampires and Good Barnabas is still trying to stop him. Oh, and Good Barnabas is in Hell now bargaining with The/a D/devil. That last part is kind of where the story lost me. Gothic horror is all about the creeping, persistent suggestion of unimaginable terror rather than an outright confrontation with it and Barnabas standing there—in the Ninth Circle—talking to possibly the Lord of Flies himself severely undercuts the subtlety of the genre. It was out of place for both the characters and the setting, but it didn’t break the story.
The story feels like it’s coming to a head, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this arc wrap up in the next two or three issues. I welcome that because I’m ready for something new from this book. It’s still good, but it’s good in the manner of a greatest-hits album: familiar and comfortable. I want something different and innovative for a horror story.
THIS NACHO AIN’T CHEESY
Overall, Nacho Tenorio’s art was well north of average—some of the images of David’s girlfriend in her full-on vampire mode are legitimately frightening and the scenes with the Hellish Hellspawn of Hell are well done and detailed if not particularly terror inspiring. I think the problem with Tenorio’s art comes when he tries for too much detail in normal faces; no matter what he’s going for, it always ends up looking too cartoony. Monster faces, demon faces, ghost faces all seem to be OK when he does this, but striving for verisimilitude in regular human faces always comes up short. I’ve come to realize this face-detail thing is a real bugaboo of mine—maybe it’s time to let it go.
BOTTOM LINE: SINK YOUR TEETH INTO IT
I’m going to stop reviewing this title. I love it. You should love it. I’ve run out of things to say otherwise. If you’re not sure about horror as a genre for comics, then this is a good title with which to give it a try; and, really, this is kind of “horror lite” anyway. If this is your first issue of “Dark Shadows,” go back and pick up the last three or four as well so you’ll have your bearings. 4 stars.