Originally published on Set The Tape
‘When the demons came, humanity reluctantly learned to share the world with another sentient race. Eighty years later, this uneasy co-existence has spawned an endless terrorist conflict. Detective Daniel Ashton, charged with being the thin blue line between the two sides, is tested to the limit when a demon sets up house inside his soul. But to save his daughter, he’ll pay any price – including genocide.’
Darkness Visible: Volume 1 collects together the first six issues of the ongoing Darkness Visible series, a story that establishes the world and characters of the book, giving readers a solid basis for future issues.
When Detective Daniel Ashton and his daughter are almost killed, he unknowingly makes a deal with a demonic criminal in order to help save his daughter’s life. Whilst this in itself would be a dramatic turn of events for most stories, here it’s used not just as a story of a man fighting a corruption of his soul, but also explores racism and xenophobia, the fear of the other, and the assumption that every member of a certain group is a terrorist.
This is perhaps one of the best things about Darkness Visible; it’s not just a story about demons living in the real world, it uses so much of what’s happening in the world today as a part of it’s universe. It addresses the fact that Shaitan are seen as an outside force that is ‘taking over’ the way of life. Even without reading the interview included at the start of the book with the writers, it’s clear that this is an allegory for the world of today, for the Trump-era and the Brexitiers, fearing anything different.
The book manages to entwine these real world fears and notions into a very fantastic tale, a world with warring demon factions that are fighting to be the first to gain control of a mystical artifact referred to as ‘the lamp’. By the end of the book we still don’t know what the lamp is, why it’s being sought out, or even where the book will head next. It manages to keep the progression a mystery by staying clear of tropes and forging its own identity instead.
Much of this first volume is about that, the world building. Two of the six issues within the book are actually flashback issues, one which shows the origin of the alliance between the human and the Shaitan during World War Two, and the other exploring how one of the characters joined with a Shaitan during the 1970’s (though I’m not mentioning which character as it’s a twist you won’t want spoiling).
These two flashback issues are the two standouts of the book for myself. They have a different art style to the rest of the book, and act as a refreshing break to the main story. Most importantly, however, they manage to show you a lot of the important details and history of this bizarre world we’re reading about, which is much more preferable to simply having a character just tell us it instead.
By the end of Darkness Visible I found myself not only invested in the characters, but genuinely intrigued by the world being created. I wanted to know more, not just about what would be happening next, but also more about the history of the world and how the presence of the Shaitan altered their historical events.
With snappy dialogue and some incredible artwork, the book will be a quick read for most, with the story and development driving you forward, eager to experience more. Having now completed Volume 1, I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter of this universe.
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