This has been the month where I really delve into Zenescope’s Age of Darkness crossover event and so far it has been quite a fun ride for me. Having read the first Neverland volume back in late 2012, the publisher’s Neverland: Age of Darkness series has proven to be quite an interesting return, and having read quite a few of Zenescope’s other titles like Robyn Hood and Realm Knights in the last couple weeks, I am definitely enjoying getting back into Zenescope comics from both a story and art perspective. It also goes without saying that I do enjoy this particular take on the Peter Pan fairy tales.
Neverland: Age of Darkness #1 was set much, much after the events of Neverland Vol.1 and thus a lot had happened in the meantime. I am still not caught up, but having read a few of the ancillary titles from Zenescope, I’ve begun to gain a small understanding of what has happened, and it helps that writers Joe Brusha and Dan Wickline give the reader enough to go on and not disorient them from what is happening. In the second issue, we pick up from where the previous one left off and see as Cross and his team make it through to Neverland and the dangers beyond. While the story was fairly decent, the art seemed to suffer this time and wasn’t as pleasant an experience as before.
In this issue we see that Nathan Cross aka Agent Hook manages to lead the remnants of his team to Neverland through the portal in the sewers of Manhattan. It also happened that when things got really, really rough for them just before they made the transition, Wendy Darling showed up to lend a hand. And as much as I enjoyed Cross in this issue, I enjoyed Wendy far more because she wasn’t used much in the first issue and this time gets a chance to feature much more, which is one of the things that I wanted to happen in this issue.
More than all the character development, we also see the story move forwards as we find out just what the Dark Horde was transporting between Neverland and Earth, and the reality is that none of it is good. The Dark Queen and her husband and consort the Dark One intend to stage an invasion of the realm of Earth and for that they need a mighty army, which is what this is all about. Getting back to Neverland for the heroes (Cross and Wendy that is) isn’t quite the homecoming they expected and it was intriguing to see how they both react, especially when they run into their old friend Tinker Belle and learn some more about what the Horde is doing.
With regards to the overall Age of Darkness story, this issue is a very small slice of the pie and we don’t really see much on that front here. Events are very localised and I suppose that is fine for now, but I really want to see things develop more so that we can get to see just what kind of an effect the activities in Neverland are having on Earth. Plus, I want to see some big action moments with Cross and Wendy going up against some major villain here. And if the solicit for #3 bears out, then we might be getting that very soon, next week in fact, and that is something that I am looking forward to.
In the meantime, I think Joe Brusha and Dan Wickline do a fairly good job here of keeping the characters interesting and moving the story ahead at the same time.
Luca Claretti, Renato Guerra and Jim Campbell are back for another run-in with these characters and the interior is quite good once again. Given all the changes in locales, we get to see lot more different things from Claretti’s pencils this time around, although I’m still put off by the artist’s expression-work on the various characters. They are just a bit too dramatic and overdone and even odd. The colours however are much better and those I definitely enjoyed, so the balance between the two is favourably maintained.
Overall, quite a good issue and just the slightest bit better than the first one. Bring on #3!
More Neverland: Age of Darkness #1.