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‘Dark Souls: Tales of Ember #1’ – Comic Book Review

Titan Comics released the first of two issues of Dark Souls: Tales of Ember earlier this month. Based on the video game developed by FromSoftware, Inc. and produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment, this issue collects three stories bookended by an intro and outro. The anthology expands on the lore of Lordan and Dragleic under the editorial guidance of Tom Williams (Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame) and Wilfried Tshikana-Ekutshu as the series designer. Lettering for the issue is provided by Williams and Michael Walsh (Hawkeye; King Warlock and Blue Bird).

The collection opens with a lone knight who takes refuge in a derelict fortress encased in an otherworldly fog. A talking cat joins the wayward knight and three stories waif from the glowing embers of the sanctuary fire. The first tale is “The Savior” written by George Mann (The Ghosts and Newbury & Hobbes series) and art by Daniele Serra (Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Anthology Volume One). It joins up with a group of religious disciples waiting for a savior. The second story, “The Infected,” written by Walsh and art by Walsh and Dylan Burnett (Weavers; Heavy Metal) introduces two friends who fight beside each other against a group of undead monsters. The final story “Witches” was written by Tauriq Moosa (Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame) with accompanying art by Damien Worm (October Faction; Monster and Madman). Three witches comment they are not hunters but ministers of justice in the land of darkness. The anthology concludes by revisiting the knight and the cat, completing “The Shrine Part 3” written by Williams and artwork by Alan Quah (Dark Souls: The Breath of Andolus) and Komikaki Studio (Dark Souls: Winter’s Spite).

Not unlike the video game, the world of Dark Souls in this collection is a very dangerous world. Each tale explores the minimalist universe with riveting stories, yet each writer retains the mystical nature of the IP. The intro and outro evoke the video game’s appeal, of the gamer playing a knight who finds solace and safety at random campfires. “The Infected” feels similar to the gameplay when two knights join forces to battle monsters, whereas “The Savior” and “Witches” turn the stories around and take the perspective of characters that knights would encounter during gameplay. The variety of story angles blends well together, resulting in engaging tales. The writing is concise, especially in “The Infected.”

The illustrations by all of the artists convey the spirit of the IP and a cohesive visual experience for the reader. Serra’s stylistic art mystifies with wispy strokes and dark shadows, contrasting with muted grays, browns, and blue hues. Walsh and Burnett illustrated their story with heavier lines and colors that stay squarely in the blues and reds. Their choices accentuate the magical flames in the concluding frames. Worm’s visual style is haunting and bewitching, which matching nicely with the witches’ story. Quah and Komikaki Studio’s illustrations for the intro and outro convey a gothic horror tone emphasized by the rich colors and highlights. Each story’s title pages are gorgeous renderings on faux scroll paper which stand out beautifully, yet pull together the stories. Lettering by Williams and Walsh is expertly executed – clearly readable and include well-placed speech bubbles that stay out of the way of the panel action. And, in the review copy, each variant cover was showcased, with covers from Worm, Walsh, Serra, as well as Nick Percival and Fabio Listrani.

Those who have played the video game and/or have read prior Dark Souls comic book series will not want to miss this latest miniseries. Check your local comic book store for this issue and mark your calendars for May 17 when the second issue is scheduled to drop.


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