Source: Independent Comics Site
Dark 48 #1 – Chicks with guns for the win!
Review by Micheal P. Jessop
I’m waiting for the comic that explores a world where all females have been wiped out, leaving only males to cope in a society now bereft of nagging and tampon commercials. That’d be an interesting place to live, full of testosterone and fighting and boozing without anybody to answer to back home. Oh, wait. That place already exists, and it’s called Alaska. It’s no wonder, then, that stories about viruses deadly to the Y-Chromosome are so popular. Nobody wants to read about Alaska.
Thus, we find ourselves mired deep in the world of Steven O’Connell’s ‘Dark 48.’ O’Connell has a lot of ground to cover in this two-issue mini-series, so the exposition is brief but pointed: A designer plague is released by terrorists that runs rampant through most the world. This virus only affects men, and while it doesn’t kill them, it essentially turns them into zombies. Angry zombies who like to kill anything and everything in their path. It’s kind of like ’28 Days Later’ meets ‘Y – The Last Man’ meets ‘Aliens’. See, since all the men in the world have turned into mindless killing machines, it’s up to the ladies to strap-in, suit-up, and start bringing the bread home. Enter Battle Corp Delta – I guess ‘Battle Corp Mu’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it – an elite strike-force composed purely of females. This makes sense, I suppose, since all men-folk have become zombies.
Delta squad is composed of a group of multi-national women with personalities as distinct as the countries they come from: ‘Ruffian’ is an American and she keeps a diary, acting as a sort of third-person narrator for the story. ‘Wraith’ hails from Great Britain, ‘Solstice’ is from Spain, ‘Anthem’ is from the US, and Canada’s donation is one ‘Twilight’. They’re not just out to kill willy-nilly, however, as they have a mission: Scour the States in their choppers and armored vehicles in search for survivors and a cure.
With that in mind, we join Battle Corp Delta as they are tracking down a distress signal originating from a hospital. Tensions are high amongst team members, however, and not all squad-mates see eye-to-eye about how to proceed. But, one thing’s for sure: If they have to mow through hundreds of ‘crazies’ – their term-of-endearment for the man-zombies – to accomplish their goal? So be it. It’s a good thing that Battle Corp Delta isn’t afraid of a little weapons’ fire, because when the man-zombies attack, nothing stops them quite like a mounted .50 cal. Though, let’s be fair: A .50 cal stops most things that come running at it.
Fortunately, Daniel Indro makes the feather-light plot easy to digest with his solid visuals. The world looks appropriately apocalyptic, with zombies that seem to take a page from ’28 Days Later’. There’s gore dispersed at various points through this comic’s 25 pages, though perhaps not as much as one might expect out of a comic that owes its roots to horror/sci-fi. In any event, Indro does a great job, giving us atmosphere that is dark and gloomy and lead characters who are simply, but effectively, women. It’s a nice change to have female leads that aren’t in tight spandex or sporting massive amounts of cleavage. Indeed, their body-armor is fittingly neutral, complimenting solid character designs all around.
All said, due to this mini-series’ brevity, O’Connell pushes us into the thick of things quickly, and there are few wasted panels. Plot is largely limited to the pages of ‘Ruffian’s’ diary that we’re privy to, and the rest is gunfire and banter between the soldiers. It’s quasi-horror-fluff, but it’s not bad fluff. If ‘Y – The Last Man’ is the steak dinner of male-killing virus comics, ‘Dark 48’ is the cotton candy. And cotton candy is pretty good, in small doses.
Four out of Five
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