Monday, May 10, 2021

Dark One Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: From #1 New York Times Bestselling, Hugo Award-winning author, Brandon Sanderson (The Mistborn Trilogy, The Stormlight Archive series), along with Nathan Gooden, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, comes Dark One, the first book in a series of original graphic novels, from Vault Comics. Some worlds are made to be broken. Paul Tanasin is a young man haunted by visions of a dark and fantastic world?visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he's destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he'll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life-the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.

I'm a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson's books in general, but especially his Cosmere stories. When I heard The Dark One was going to be published as a series of graphic novels, I was pretty excited. This was a cool way to read the story and would go much faster than some of the door stop-sized Cosmere novels that can take a while to get through. Even better, when I found out I had an opportunity to preview this graphic novel, I jumped at the chance. 

One of the first things that drew me to Sanderson's books was his often new and/or unique approach to fantasy tropes. In this case, what if the traditional "chosen one" was actually chosen to be the great bad guy? This may have done before, but I can't say that I know of any books with this premise. Couple this with Sanderson's writing style and the greater Cosmere stories he is telling and I'm all in on The Dark One.

A quick summary: Paul Tanasin is a young man (late teens/early 20's) who sees a psychologist regularly. You see, Paul has nightmares where he is destroying people and creatures. However, his dreams seem to take place in another realm rather than the modern city he lives in. Additionally, he has a "friend" that only he can see, one who claims she is his sister. Paul's mother, a high powered defense lawyer, is about to take on an unwinnable case, defending a confessed serial killer. She doesn't have time to deal with Paul's hallucinations and dreams.

Meanwhile, in the magical realm of Mirandus, rumors that the next Dark One is rising reach the Kingdoms of Light and the Chronicle King. The wizard Illarion has a plan: when the Dark One rises, the Narrative answers by calling a Destined One. And Illarion has been training him for years. Additionally, the Chronicle King's daughter Feotora fancies herself the kingdom's savior as well. Illarion sends a Chronicle Knight to destroy the Dark One before he has ascended, and things go sideways from there.

The Dark One Volume 1 begins in the middle of the action and only picks up from there. I found Sanderson's story very engaging. Paul is a very interesting character and his journey to Mirandus and his ascent to become the Dark One is well thought out. Illarion and Feotora, the heroes in this type of story, may not be exactly heroic. And just as this volume closes, a huge surprise is revealed.

The denizens of Mirandus constantly refer to the Narrative (capital N every time) when referencing events in the past, present, and future. I found this approach to a guiding force unique, almost meta. It's very clever having characters in a story refer to the overarching events in their lives as the Narrative, talking about the roles they play, and how their world is very cyclical. Its a nod to the reader and the tropes of the fantasy genre.

Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly have taken Sanderson's story and adapted it to the graphic novel format. I think they've done a terrific job. Nathan Gooden's artwork really fits the story and reminds me a little of Jae Lee's art. 

I really enjoyed The Dark One by Brandon Sanderson and others. I read it (200+ pages) in two sittings and now I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume to see what happens next. I highly recommend it for fans of fantasy stories and any fan of Brandon Sanderson. This is well worth the time spent reading.

I received a preview copy of this book from Vault Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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