It’s a great time for fans of indie comics anthologies right now with the likes of Comichaus and Papercuts and Inkstains setting a very high standard. The latest to throw their hat in the ring is Close 2 Immortality’s Chris Sides and Chris Travell whose Dark Matter volume 2, which is set to debut at MCM Birmingham. With the stories all written by Sides and featuring artwork from a roster of some of the small press scene’s finest, how will this new collection match up to the other anthologies on the block?
Publisher: Close 2 Immortality
Writer: Chris Sides
Artist: Paul Moore (Art), Charlie Hogg (Colours/Letters), Chris Travell (Art), Randy Haldeman (Art), Ken Reynolds (Letters), Matt Harrower (Art), Aljosa Tomic (Colours), Jim Lavery (Art), Dan Cornwell (Art), Chris Knapman (Cover)
Our rating: [star rating=”4″]
Dark Matter volume 2 is a selection of 6 very different, but very dark, self contained stories from writer Chris Sides and a variety of artists, which offers up a great selection of genres from Sci-fi to Horror to Zombies and more
We start with a pair of crime stories in Rollover (about a group of time-travelling crooks stealing a lottery ticket) and Cerulean Sky (about two cops on the side of the road) before going intergalactic with a dose of sci-fi horror in Stay With Me (which feels like Black Mirror meets 2001) and witness the end of the world in Unspoken. We round things off with a couple of fresh twists on some well established horror classics in Fine Dining, which sees a restaurant critic visit a small town to meet an old review with gruesome results; and The Last Batch which has a nice variation on the zombie origin cliche.
Despite coming from the same writer, each tale feels completely different to the others and so makes for a much more compelling read. As with all anthologies some stories are better than others, with Rollover and Unspoken being rather confusing to begin with, (but building to an interesting end) and Fine Dining feeling a tad predictable from the start. However the stories zip along at a good pace and even if things aren’t always perfect, the entire book is a lot of fun to read.
The artwork has some terrific turns throughout from it’s eclectic talent pool with each story having it’s own distinctive style. Paul Moore feels on the cusp of greatness with a superbly underrated turn on Rollover and a style that feels like a mix of Mitch Gerards and Sean Philips; while Fine Dining’s crisp clean lines reminded us of Darick Robertson’s work on The Boys. Chris Travell has really upped his game on Cerulean Sky with a new style that feels almost David Hockney-esque; while Randy Haldeman does a great job on Stay with Me with a style that looks like an homage to the Descender comics and perfectly matches the tone of the story. Meanwhile Matt Harrower’s work on Unspoken is perhaps the most interesting of the whole issue with an eye-popping and anarchic style that reflects the chaotic nature of the story and helps prevent the collection from feeling too safe and familiar. However it is Dan Cornwell’s almost Babs Tarr-like style within The Last Batch which is perhaps our favourite, with some nice pencils and good colour use to round the book off.
Overall Dark Matter volume 2 is an extremely compelling read, with some really fun stories being offered up and some absolutely great art being attached to each. Not everything may be to everyone’s tastes but this is a case of the ‘whole being greater than the sum of its parts’. So grab a copy as it is one enjoyable ‘whole’.