Wednesday, February 28, 2024

#IReadsYou Review: DARKLING #1


STORY: Sarah Kuhn
ART: Carola Borelli
COLORS: Ellie Wright
LETTERS: Jack Morelli
EDITOR: Jamie Lee Rotante
EiC: Mike Pellerito
COVER: Maria Laura Sanapo
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (January 2024); on sale in comic book shops November 22, 2023

Rating: Teen+

Eternal high school student and teenage boy, Archie Andrews, and his friends made their debut in M.L.J. Magazines' Pep Comics #22 (cover dated: December 1941), and before long, Archie was the publisher's headliner character.  In 1946, the company changed its named to Archie Comic Publications, also known as “Archie Comics.”

Archie Comics has also published superhero comic books.  Its most well-known superhero title followed the superhero team, “The Mighty Crusaders.”  The Mighty Crusaders title that was launched in the 1980s (cover dated: March 1983 to September 1985) ran for thirteen issues.  The Mighty Crusaders #4 (cover dated: November 1983) saw the debut of the new superhero character “Darla Lang/Darkling.”  The character was killed off in The Mighty Crusaders #11 (cover dated March 1985).

Darkling No. 1 brings Darla Lang/Darkling to modern comics.  This one-shot comic book is written by Sarah Kuhn; drawn by Carola Borelli; colored by Ellie Wright; and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Darkling #1 opens at Ivy Hollow University, which has a reputation for being haunted.  It is the witching hour, and Ivy Hollow student, Darla Lang, wants to connect with the supernatural world.  Darla hopes to find a way to free herself of the peculiar voluminous black cloak that has been attached to her since she was a baby.

During a stealthy, middle-of-the-night trip to Ivy Hollow Library, Darla meets fellow outcast student, Phoebe Hayashi.  A podcaster, Phoebe believes that she is on the trail of a creepy conspiracy involving missing students.  Will Darla find within the hallowed halls Ivy Hollow the answers to the questions about herself and her powers that she’s been seeking

THE LOWDOWN:   I have been reading comic books, on and off, for decades.  I have sporadically read Archie Comics titles over that time.  For many years now, Archie's marketing department has been sending PDF copies of some of their titles for review.  Darkling No. 1 is the latest.

After reading Darkling No. 1, I wish it were an ongoing series.  Writer Sarah Kuhn (Shadow of the Batgirl; Girl Taking Over: A Lois Lane Story) offers a delightful mystery tale set in the “dark academia” genre (or immersed in the “dark academia” aesthetic, if you choose).  Kuhn offers a breezy story that is both a highly-entertaining stand alone tale and also the beginning of something beautiful in YA comic books if Archie decides to continue it.  It's a world in which many readers will want their imaginations to live, at least part time.

Carola Borelli's art and storytelling are engaging, even gripping at times.  Borelli captures the thrills, chills, and clique-ish ills of Kuhn's script in a way that brings the world of Ivy Hollow University to life with variety and vividness.  Ellie Wright's colors and color effects are the finishing touches to the magical beats of Darkling No. 1, with the great Jack Morelli's lettering giving this story the vibe of a comic book that is perfect for all readers.

Darkling No. 1 will probably be a delightful surprise to everyone, except the creative and editorial teams of this work.  Dear readers, let's make this new Darkling a regular comic book thing.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Archie Comics' superhero titles will want to try Darkling No. 1.

[This comic book includes a two-page section on the making of Darkling No. 1.]


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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