The first of these was Age of Darkness #1 which launched in time for Halloween. The second is a supernatural western called The Arcane #1 which debuted in November of this year. Created by Don McLiam and written by Andy Wolfendon, writer of the hilarious 2002 PC and Gamecube game Darkened Skye, it is illustrated by Paolo D' Antonio, colored by Marco Pagnotta, and lettered by Crank.
The story unfolds in an Arizona town by the name of Canaan’s Sorrow. A desolate place with only an abandoned hotel, a run-down church, a few buildings, and a saloon, one wonders why anyone still lives there let alone how they make a living. The saloon is run by a single mom named Quinn whose young son, Phelan, is much more than what he appears to be. With the arrival of a group of faceless men with red demon eyes and powers which defy man and God, the town is scared to death. Their demand is simple: the town must turn over the “Books” or face dire consequences; however, the townspeople are unwilling to ask for help from the only man who could help them – Jeremiah Arcane. A man they ran out of town years ago presumably because he scares them more then these red-eyed guys do.
Quinn is the only one willing to do what no one else is and searches out Jeremiah revealing another secret along the way. Finding Jeremiah through his mother, we and Jeremiah learn his father had discovered ancient symbols which allowed him to transverse time and space. What’s worse, his father almost sold the symbols to the devil in exchange for the safe birth of his child (not Jeremiah). He backed out at the last minute but paid a heavy price; each of his offspring would possess some sort of supernatural power; however, Jeremiah’s father was smart enough to hide the symbols in a series of “books” which were left with his five sons, four more brothers than Jeremiah knew about. Tasked with finding all of his brothers and the books before the minions of the devil do, Jeremiah sets out on a long and arduous journey.
One of the issues I had with the story was that I found it odd that once we met Jeremiah and saw that he was basically a nice guy, why the town wasn’t begging for his help. Though somewhat troubled and burdened with a dark past, he is clearly a better alternative than the red-eyed demons who blasted a hole in the abandoned hotel.
It also appeared that Jeremiah’s brothers knew about each others' existence before they were “called” to meet together, but it was obvious they did not know each other well. So, I was taken aback by how quickly they formed up into a team. They willingly went into danger knowing they would have to work together in order to survive, but it felt like it was forced and too soon for that to happen. They also knew about the others’ fighting abilities, yet how would they know this when they had limited contact with each other? I would have liked to see at least one of the brothers resist the “call” to meet in order to add more conflict and dynamics to the story and advance character development. Hopefully, in later issues, we will see more divisiveness among the brothers, which will make their task even more difficult, yet more fun for the reader.
Though a convoluted story, overall, it is well executed. The art style fits the tone as well as the coloring. I particularly liked the choice of font for the letter from his father. It was easily readable but had a handwritten quality about it. (I’m not a font person, so if it fits the time and place and I can read it, all is good.) Being a paranormal and a western fan, I liked the premise, and I think it has a lot of potential. I do hope we see more clever uses of what was available during that time period to help defeat this evil and not just supernatural power. Sometimes, using seemingly innocuous old tech can have the most impact.
I look forward to the second issue coming out in January 2014.