Darkest Night: Act One by Hayden Fryer (2012) – Comic Review
Darkest Night: Act One represents a drastic change in direction for Billy Demon Slayer creator Hayden Fryer. As soon as you open to the first page the comic quickly asserts itself as Fryer’s most polished and mature work. Where Billy was playful, funny and fast moving Darkest Night is serious, brooding and slower paced. Fryer really takes his time to establish the setting and key players in this tale of love, death and revenge and it shows. The dialogue is sharp, the characters are grounded and the art is a wonderful interplay of black and white.
This first act is very much a slow burn. The story focuses on Carlie and Caleb two teenage lovers who break up just before New Year’s Eve and that is pretty much the crux of the plot. In this first act Fryer really takes his time to develop his two main characters and the tension between them. It all feels very much like a set up and at this stage it’s hard to tell where the actual plot will take the characters.
The real drawcard of this book is Fryer’s fabulous art which really comes into its own here. His mastery of layouts, using empty space and his balancing of the black of the inks and white of the page is nothing short of breathtaking. His drawing style has been very much refined and the amount of detail he manages to cram into each panel is impressive. It’s just a pity that the heavy use of digital effects, especially blurring, tends to detract from Fryers otherwise sharp pencils and inks.
Overall Darkest Night: Act One is enjoyable but uneventful. The actual plot doesn’t move much in its 28 glossy pages but as it is only part one of three it’s unfair to judge the plot at this stage. What can be assessed is the dialogue, art and visual storytelling, none of which can be found wanting.
Darkest Night: Act One truly is a polished gem of an indie comic from a very talented indie creator.
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