Review: Dark Shadows (comic) #1

Written by Stuart Manning

Illustrated by Aaron Campbell

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

In which we learn what the Collins family of 1971 (as well as their friends and enemies) have been up to since Barnabas and Julia returned from their trip to 1840…

A property which has returned from the dead more than once – and in more than one medium – Dark Shadows is currently enjoying a new lease on life thanks to interest generated by the upcoming Burton-Depp feature film. But this comic marks the first time that all of the original characters and their stories have been revisited since the show ended in 1971. And not having to allow for the passage of time means that prominent characters like Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Roger Collins and Dr. Julia Hoffman – whose actors have all passed away – can once again play pivotal parts in the ongoing narrative.

This being a first issue, not much happens beyond introducing the dysfunctional family to new readers, and bringing veteran fans up to speed. Nevertheless, Stuart Manning infuses the proceedings with intrigue (What’s up with the statue of Angelique in the forest? Who wrote that “in strictest confidence” letter to Roger?), menace (Will Barnabas be able to resist his vampiric urges?) and tantalising things to come (“She approaches”).

With the help of modern technology, illustrator Aaron Campbell has done an amazing job of recreating the interiors and exteriors of Collinwood and the Old House, and faithfully renders the familiar characters’ likenesses. Inker Carlos Lopez uses a palette of browns, oranges, vermilions and olive greens to evoke the early 1970s’ kitschy earthiness, whilst also recalling similar vampiric properties from that time period.

And charmingly, the comic even (unintentionally?) echoes the television show’s propensity for inadvertent bloopers; thanks to an unfortunately placed full-page ad, Barnabas appears to be having a nightmare about the return of Voltron…

VERDICT: A bloody good start of continuing where things left off in Collinsport 40 years ago… 7/10

John S. Hall

 

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