By Sam King
Dark Frontier is a very gritty, mid-apocalyptic comic. While there is a lot of potential, this first issue has a lot of plot strands that so far do not appear to be connecting to one another. This is a bit jumbled, but another issue may help to clear things up. The artwork, while cool and giving the aspect an edgy feel, sometimes gets overly chaotic in a messy way that makes it hard to really know what is going on.
Dark Frontier opens with rain and a man getting beaten up, then seemingly killing another man due to remarks made about a woman (presumably one connected to the man doing the killing). The thought text here is a bit clunky. Also, it doesn’t give us a full picture of where we are or what is happening. We see a woman in a cage; then the next panel shows us somewhere in what I believe to be the future.
The main woman is a bounty hunter named Luc. She seems to be partly mechanical, having a metal arm. She has some badass action sequences, and I really like her so far. One thing that is confusing me so far is that on the cover she is shown having ears, then what appear to be ears show slightly in two panels towards the end, but otherwise, they aren’t shown. I am unsure if this is an inconsistent art detail or if they are also maybe mechanical implants that only pop-up sometimes. No idea what is going on there. The man that was in the opening appears to be her friend/partner Max. Max underwent some high-tech saving but is said to have the mental capacity of a child. He’s apparently super damaged, and I’m curious as to what his role in the overall story will be. Generally, his mask-covered face and bulky design reminds me of Bane.
The story has a lot going on. First, there is the opening scene with rain and a confrontation of some kind. Then Luc wakes up, and we are left wondering if she was having just a dream, a memory shown in a dream, or just waking up. She goes to the doctor and finds out Max’s state. The transition from this section to the next is very clunky and could have used a bit more smoothing out. Then Luc is bounty hunting a group of clown-like figures who have been wreaking havoc on a small town and thought-telling us a little about the political landscape of America. She knocks down the baddies epically and then continues on her way. A lot happens, but where it is all going? Not sure. There is no explicit direction at the moment. We know Luc was once in a resistance group, but we don’t quite know why that resistance was needed or why it possibly failed. Also, the political arena lends to setting up how fucked up the world is, but I am unsure if it will greatly play into the story as a plot point or just an environmental influencer that sets up a different story entirely. The political aspect reeks of the current political state we are in, noting that the president is an idiot, America is a nation within walls, and oil pipelines are sapping resources from native people’s lands. Whether this comic actually shows a future we will find ourselves in is unsure, but it is easy to see where it is pulling some of its’ influences from.
The art is black and white, heavily inked. It provides a gritty, edgy feel to the story that is fitting with the environment. Most of the composition within panels is really good, although there are a couple that don’t feel as revealing as the rest, which causes a bit of muddying. Also, the time and some temporal transitions feel rough and I’m hoping more of this gets cleared up should the series continue. Some compositions and design elements give this a very Western feel, despite it being in a more modern context. This seems to be a bit of a pattern in some comics right now, blending futuristic conflicts with Western visuals and themes. Hopefully, it works in the long run.
Dark Frontier #1 is a good starting issue, but it does set up a lot of questions and does not provide a direct plotline, to begin with. I’m sure with another issue it will be a lot easier to tell what the main character objectives are. Hopefully, we also more interaction with Max because he was presented immediately, but not used or shown very much in the second half of the comic. I’m hoping that there’s a second issue and that things clear up. If the art just balances the black and white composition a bit more, transitions between things are smooth, and the story starts providing some structural plot direction, it should end up being a damn good time. The rockiness of the story in this issue, however, forces me to pull it down in rating a notch. It is a good issue, but it needed tightening up just a bit.
Dark Frontier #1