The first dark what-if tale of this series 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 built an ark to save the unnatural animals. These next two volumes bring the Dark Ark to shore!
Old Gods- Volume Two
We get some backstory- showing Shrae’s parallel story to Noah’s, as he feverishly builds an ark, lying to the villagers that he will give them sanctuary. The few that he takes, are doomed to be fed to the monsters, and one horrible mother is very deserving of this fate. We find out how Janris and Khalee become friends, and we see how all of Shrae’s children are complicit in his dark deeds.
Shrae visits aquatic monsters Echidna and Typhon, children of the old Earth’s titans, who are the parents of the current monsters. These original Gods, have been all but forgotten, but demand tribute even as he tells them he is planning to save their monstrous children. He tells everyone what they want to hear, but backstabs everyone in his quest to keep the ark inhabitants alive. While this is based on a religious story, the narrative remains neutral, as you see Shrae balance duty vs morality.
The story ends with his ark safe, and the rain stopping. What awaits them now?
The World That Waits- Volume Three
Author Cullen Bunn has opened each volume with an introduction, and he immediately shares that there will be more of the story in a new series, called After The Flood. This is somewhat of a disservice to this story, which I thought would be the conclusion, as it then made the entire volume anti-climatic.
The story begins with two big events- Shrae’s first grandchild is born on the ark, and an island is sighted. Monsters and humans alike are eager to land and explore, but a surprise awaits them. Fallen angels, who survived the flood are there and immediately start hunting the ark inhabitants as they step off onto land. Khalee feels forced to take drastic measures and accepts her father’s dark magic herself to fight back against these new vicious foes. While the ark was certainly dangerous, they have now stepped out of the pan and into the fire, as landfall has just brought them more troubles. This, of course, sets up the next series that Cullen and the artist Juan Doe have planned.
The art in this volume was a big improvement from the previous two. While the humans remain blocky and indistinguishable from one another, the monsters get an upgrade. The purple-tinged pages of the monsters disembarking were drawn more precisely with some good action shots and interesting panel placement. The closeups of Nex, the vampire, definitely reminded me of the evil smile of DC’s Joker.
Overall, these three volumes told an interesting and sinister twist on the Biblical story of Noah, with Shrae’s parallel voyage. I’m also willing to check into the sequel, although on Goodreads I only see V1 of After The Flood, which was published in 2020, and none since then. Covid hit publishing hard, so I wonder if the entire scope of the story will eventually be wrapped up the way Bunn was hoping for.