Back in 2020, I read an issue of Dark Ark: Instinct through Free Comic Book Day, and I said, “This dark what-if tale was fascinating. Many of us have heard the biblical story of Noah and the ark saving people and animals for the future, but this tale speculates that a sorcerer Shrae builds an ark to save the unnatural animals.” I went back to the source material, as Instinct had been a one-off based on this first volume, and I am a fan of much of Cullen Bunn’s work.
Family man Shrae, known for his evil ways, has a parallel journey to Noah during the biblical flood but is trapped on board with gruesome monsters who are all bloodthirsty and not doing well with being confined in the ark alongside other creatures. Juxtaposed along with these monsters, are a pair of unicorns who bemoan that they should have been on Noah’s boat instead (and really are a sly wink to these mythical creatures’ fate). Humans are chained in a hold, obviously, they are to be used as feed for the creatures, and Shrae’s adult children struggle with this, as they all were fellow villagers at one time. When Naga, a serpentine creature is found killed, a murder mystery is established, with many suspects. Kruul, a manticore, who has odd and unhealthy shifting allegiances with the humans, is not to be trusted nor are the vampires. Angels visit this ark, mistaking it for Noah’s (I’m sorry- but come on! There are only two arks in this flooded world, and they go to the wrong one??) and tie Shrae and Noah’s fate together. If Noah’s ark doesn’t survive, neither will Shrae’s.
The art by Juan Doe was necessarily dark and sketchy with pink and red overtones. The various creatures were appropriately monstrous-looking, with many mystical creatures from legends and myths portrayed. I especially enjoyed two facing 9-panel pages that had Shrae interrogating the monsters about Naga’s death. However, the additional family members were hard to distinguish from one another, as all were drawn very blocky-like with no distinguishing characteristics.
There are two more volumes in this series, and I aim to read them too as I wish to find out how these monsters of yore fare on the ark and then upon landing in a new world.