One of the more fun and interesting independent comics that I have read over the past year and a half has been writer Chuck Amadori and artist Rubril Avril’s little sci-fi opus of dark science, torture, and mysterious pale bad guys. Pale Dark has been one of my favorite indy titles out and it was my Best Indie Title of 2014 during the Comic Bastards year-end round-up. Only two issues in, this tale has captured my attention and creeped me out a little bit too making for a super fun read. Well the good news is that there is now a third issue out and the intensity (as well as some answers) are starting to trickle in, opening up this bizarro world of old and new, science and superstition, good and evil.
When we last left our heroes, Subject K and Spez, they have managed to escape from the spaceship of their torture in an escape pod down to a world that resembles our own, albeit more of a 1990s feel. It would appear that Spez for all of his eccentricities and weirdness, actually commands a little bit of respect as he apparently is a ranking member of a resistance movement pitted against the Pale Man and his thuggy minions. We still are very unsure however what the significance of Subject K truly is. But it would appear that he is a person of great interest with the Pale Man, even though he (or us) really don't know what that significance is. Some of the pieces are starting to come together though and Issue #3 works in a way to cover Subject K and Spez’s escape, the Pale Man’s minions’ pursuit and the aftermath of both.
Writer Chuck Amadori writes this issue as no-nonsense, following the escape and pursuit with the action in between. There is very little narration here, but dialogue aplenty that puts the reader in the spaceship with Pale Man, in the escaping lands with K/Spez, and with Pale Man’s crack legions whose leaders all have lettered names like WX and YZ. All this is at work with the final and eventual connection of K/Spez with the resistance movement. There is a lot at play and Amadori is pacing the story in small doses to make this the epic that it is destined to become.
Artist Rubril Avril adds the power punch to Amadori’s words making out our heroes to look worn and sallow, our bad guys to look strong and intimidating. And of course, making the Pale Man look, well, pale, and creepy. The dude is a stone cold sociopath and he makes no argument against that as he apparently treats his test subjects as well as his minions with equal merciless regard (ouch).
I have reckoned Abril's art to be kind of a mixture of sci-fi gothic. But with this issue, we get some more bright and less darkness as we finally see a little bit of light on this planet of escape. The darkness of space has been replaced by the rural rustic landscape that demonstrates a nice touch in changing styles. Nice work by colorist Nimesh Morarji and flat design artist Bobby Penafiel in making these images really pop at the reader with strong look and feel.
I have been largely pleased with many of the Isle Square Comics offerings to include Tether, Empress, Snake, Bang, Bang Lucita and others. All are a healthy mix of old and new and feature the solid writing talent of Chuck Amadori. But of all of those titles, Pale Dark was my first and still my favorite foray into this independent arena. I am looking forward to seeing how things evolve and where we will go from here. With Pale Man’s forces on the hunt (with life and slow painful death on the line), it is inevitable that they will find our heroes and begin some serious trouble for a duo that have seen nothing but trouble for the better part of the first three issues.