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‘The Dark Room’ HC (review)

Written by by Gerry Duggan
Art by Scott Buoncristiano, Tamra Bonvillain
Published by Image Comics

 

Gerry Duggan and Scott Buoncristiano team up to bring us their original graphic novel, The Dark Room.

This book is fast paced, full of jokes, gruesome action. It has a lot of moving parts with varying changes in tone throughout. Ultimately, the book ends up feeling not quite cohesive. But it is quite a ride to the end.

The story opens up with a brief introduction.

A photographer with a camera, obsessed with trying to capture beauty. But the camera is cursed, and any picture developed just shows the hideous and evil in this world.

The story jumps to present day.

Dounia Mahoney owns an antiquities shop.

A mysterious figure appears at her shop, inquiring about this camera. Dounia feigns ignorance, but she knows more than she is letting on.  While she doesn’t have the camera, she knows it’s important that the camera does not fall into those with ill intention. Dounia is joined by her friends Aaron and Walter, along with some mischievous elves. Magic swords, cursed cameras, cocaine from elves, it’s all fair game.

Duggan’s story starts out with that creepy feeling that a good horror story brings, before it switches to feeling like a detective story.

A boisterous battle between a werewolf and vampires sends us out on the road. This book is trying to do a lot. Maybe too much has the various tone shifts leave this reader feeling a bit whiplashed. Ultimately the story works, but there’s a middle section where you’d wish things slowed a bit.

One thing I enjoyed is how the relationships between Dounia, Walter, and Aaron felt lived in.

These three people on this adventure are old friends who have been through it. It added a real sense of fun to the proceedings. Even though there were occasions where I felt like I missed a previous chapter, it was not lack of clarity but interpersonal dynamics that were thoroughly entertaining

Buonocristiano’s art drove the story. Balancing a story that utilizes action, horror, and comedy can’t be easy. Too gory and the humor does not land, and the whole book appears garish. Too light and the comedy stops being funny and the horror is not disturbing. Buonocristiano is just right. You can enjoy the humor of elves still dressed as if they are in a 70’s disco; yet get caught up in a supernatural battle that may determine the fate of Earth.

Silly at times, but Buonocristiano convinces you to roll with it.

The Dark Room, full of excess and silliness, tries to have it all.

For a while, you kind of wish the story would pick a lane and tell just one type of story.

By the end, you’ll be wanting to visit these characters again.

 

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