Dark Agnes #1 / Writer: Becky Cloonan / Artist: Luca Pizzari / Colorist: Jay David Ramos / Editor: Mark Basso / Publisher: Marvel Comics / Published Date: February 5, 2020.
The Hero We Need, Dark Agnes
Robert E. Howard’s swashbuckling heroine, Dark Agnes now has herself a solo run. This character, created in the 1930’s, is still very relevant today. The comic begins in France with her friend Etienne Villiers, who is in way over his head and is about to lose it. The mouthy man taunts the aristocracy, while the villagers yell in support of him. Suddenly our heroine unveils to save the day. The duo make their way out of the city through a forest that brings up haunting memories of Agnes’ past. The men in her early life were less than kind. She had to survive, she had to fight back, she had to become Dark Agnes.
Fearless and Complex
Becky Cloonan does a brilliant job of turning the damsel in distress trope on its head in the best possible way. Not only do readers get why Eitienne’s mouth could have put him in this position, but Agnes is the anti-hero we’ve all been waiting to save the day. Cloonan has re-imagined her as a complex, but fearless woman who strikes fear into the minds of those who challenge her. Not only is she good with a sword, her tongue is just as sharp. Dark Agnes shows her brutal past, but also the compassion she has for her friends and mentor. Cloonan takes on an adventure filled with sword fights, painful past, romantic intrigue, while setting up a main goal for our heroine. The reader is engaged from start to finish and left wanting to see where this new job will take Dark Agnes and her friend.
Dark Agnes Art
Luca Pizzari’s art is a bit rough around the edges, but this fits Dark Agnes and helps to lead you through the story. Although leaving the cross set up to make someone’s face in the wanted poster was a bit too unfinished. The highlight for Pizzari’s art is the facial expressions created. Whether it’s drunk Agnes, vulnerable young Agnes, flirty Etienne, angry or frightened villagers, a story is told across the face of the characters. The flashback and drunken dream created by Pizzaro are also beautiful and terrifying. He shows us Dark Agnes’ far past, her feared past, and the trauma of her recent past to lead us to her current present nature. The artistic journey is beautifully paired with the story arc.
Shades of a Dark Time
Colorist Jay David Ramos does a great job supporting the story and the time period. Both the gallows and the pub are dark and dingey as you’d assume it must have been like at the time. His coloring of the first flashback is jarring and creepy in its green tones, which accentuates the horror of her past life. The red of her hair pops against all these backgrounds to indicate she is special, she stands out, but she is also dangerous. Again, the drunken dream is gorgeous, but with Ramos’ adding of muted reds, sepia, and blues the world becomes even more fantastic. Especially, when shifting back to the regular world colors of her recent trauma.
Overall, Great Start
Overall, I really enjoyed this first issue of Dark Agnes. I had no background on the character but am interested in seeing more of her. She is fierce and although rough around the edges, extremely likable. Cloonan writes a great story and has a deep understanding of the character. She is well supported by her artistic team, although it would be nice to see the art a bit more completed in places as I know Pizzari can do. Regardless, what has been created is a great start and I look forward to seeing where Dark Agnes is headed.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5