When Valla was alive, she was a successful fisher-woman in a small seaside village. She lived a peaceful life, and she worked hard for a living. That work ethic would be the death of her. One night when she returns late from the ocean, she’s attacked, and her life shifts in a direction she’d never imagined possible. A slave to a powerful being and his vile wives, she longs for her freedom in a world she cannot return to. So she turns to what she knows best, and Valla becomes one with the sea. There she lives for decades, a life of beauty and detachment, fed and sheltered by all around her. That is, until a black plague spills into her home, threatening her food supply and stealing the life of the only friend she’s had in her new existence. With a heart driven by anger and grief, Valla surfaces into a new world, one that’s evolved into many things she doesn’t understand. So when she discovers cam girls on the phone of a stranger, she takes his life and the idea to heart, using her powers of compulsion to build a life for herself on the internet. But even century old monsters have problems, and it seems like Valla’s may just be beginning.
An ecologically aware vampire story reads as an odd sentiment, but DARK FANG has a team of creators that takes a played out urban legend and gives it a spin in a fresh direction. Miles Gunter does a marvelous job penning the story, his to and fro from Valla’s olden language to the modern dialect, both verbal and technologically, occurring seamlessly, dancing around each other and weaving an intriguing tale. Valla’s character comes across solid; her confusion of this new world, her contempt for its inhabitants and a sort of detached recollection of the pain she feels for a life she can barely recall before her turning. She’s like the popular girl in school; part of you hates her but at the same time part of you wants to follow her to see what’s next.
Kelsey Shannon adds to Gunter’s literary masterpiece with some seriously impressive imagery and colors. With a soft modern feel to his lines, Shannon illustrates DARK FANG with a fluid style that gives a weird mix of ethereal darkness and technical beauty that I find many creators have a hard time marrying together. When you take in his drop-dead gorgeous coloring, Shannon takes an already recommended story up a level, and gives your eyes a feast. Sometimes I find that a wide varying color pallet can detract from a story for me, overwhelming me with busy changes. Despite my preference for a simplistic coloring style, Shannon offers up a plethora of colors that drives every panel home.
On a similar note, I should find Taylor Esposito a bit overwhelming, once again preferring a slightly less cluttered look for the text in a story. But surprisingly, it wasn’t until I looked back over the issue that I noticed that the dialogue took up a bit too much space for me in several panels. Between the coloring of the narrative boxes and the placement of the balloons, Esposito made the transition from narration to text, panel to panel, a smooth one. I didn’t trip up or find myself reading out-of-order, and that’s really all that matters.
DARK FANG promises to be a fun story, M for Mature, that will take its reader on a compelling ride. A perplexed, ancient, beautiful vampire trying to make her way in the modern world stumbling upon cam life really speaks for itself. With a cliffhanger that’ll have you counting down for the second issues release (Dec. 20th, 2017), join Valla in her bloody lifestyle alongside Toby, her headless minion.
(W) Miles Gunter (A/CA) Kelsey Shannon