Comic Review - American Dark Age #1

American Dark Age by writer Jean Michel and artist Jacqueline Taylor is the first release from New York based independent publisher, Megabrain Comics. Great art? Check. Intriguing storyline? Check. Pretty rock chick with a bad attitude and a broad sword? Check, one, two!

"Megabrain Comics brings you the first series in their neo-medieval™ apocalyptic trilogy; AMERICAN DARK AGE which takes place in a near future when a mysterious event renders all combustion based machinery, weapons and electrical technology impotent and useless. The story focuses on Katherine Brody, a young punk singer from Oregon and her rise as an unlikely warrior in a world that no longer recognizes itself.

AMERICAN DARK AGE thrusts the reader in to this archaic landscape and asks not only who you were before “The Blackout” but who will you be after, with so much righteous destiny and sinister opportunity laid before you to be picked at with the tip of a sword.

Brody’s journeys take her and a small band of Marine Corps “Knights” from the bloody shores of California across the now harsh and lawless landscape of the United States to an end that will change the face of a nation forever.

Filled with political intrigue, character drama and ultra-violent sword clashing battle scenes, AMERICAN DARK AGE takes a new look at the American spirit and what people can achieve and destroy when they set their mind to it."

American Dark Age throws us straight into the thick of things with our leading lady, Katherine Brody, hacking and slashing with her broadsword in what we find to be a dystopian, steam punk-esque future of our very own planet.  Taylor's art throughout is of a fantastic quality. The inking seems a little rough, although this helps to add to the gritty atmosphere. She manages to fill every frame without making it just feel like filler, everything is in there for a reason. Heavy metal sensibilities abound giving the overall product a feeling somewhat similar to that of Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley's The Melting Pot. 

Jean Michel's writing starts off action packed, giving us a taste of whats to come before settling back into much more of a character driven story about the emotionally distant Katherine Brody and her widower father. It is these interactions that make me want to come back for more. By setting the scene and the developing the characters in the manner that he has, Michel has drawn me into an emotional involvement with Katherine and her Dad. This makes me want to know more. What happens to them? Will Dad survive? Please say the  guitar doesn't get damaged! 

The story starts with a bang but within a couple of pages it slows down, almost to a crawl. At first I felt as though I wanted the action to kick back off again but I realised that if that were to happen, all of the setup would be lost. What Michel and Taylor have managed to do is build an overwhelming aura of foreboding. We know what is going to happen but what we don't know is how or why and what is going to happen to our newly beloved cast of characters. It would be easy to undersell this story as a rock chick with swords killing people and stuff and things.... blah, blah, blah. What we actually get to see is a fantastic story about a girl who uses her rock and roll alter ego as a shell to hide from the pain of her past. Those around her think that she is a kick arse while those closest to her know just how fractured she really is. American Dark Age will be a wonderful Heavy Metal inspired hack and slash, but for now, it is a well crafted character driven story about escaping from despair.

You could be forgiven for thinking that American Dark Age was published by one of the big guys. The art and writing are both of a professional standard, giving me no doubt that these crazy kids will make their way onto the payrolls of the big guys in no time. The copy that I reviewed was online so I can't pass judgement on the paper or print quality. If you are lucky enough to be attending the New York Comic Con drop by booth 1915 and say hi to the folks from Megabrain Comics. While you're there, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of American Dark Age #1.


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