Dark Ages #4 is written by Tom Taylor, illustrated by Iban Coello, colored by Brian Reber, and lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino. It is published by Marvel Comics. Following the tragic end of the last issue, multiple heroes, including Spider-Man and Storm, travel to Europe on a ship fashioned from the remains of a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, intending to stop Apocalypse from awakening the Unmaker. However, dangers are lurking on the high seas…
What makes series like this and Dark Knights of Steel worth reading is Taylor’s approach to beloved heroes and how they fit into the premise. With Dark Knights, it’s how DC’s heroes and villains translate to a high fantasy setting; with Dark Ages, it’s how the Marvel heroes and villains adapt to a world without technology. We get to see more of the world and other heroes in this issue. Nightcrawler, with his fellow X-Men Multiple Man and Colossus, captains the Helicarrier and brings refugees from Europe to Africa. A crew of pirates sold their souls to Mephisto, becoming Ghost Riders in the process. And Scott Lang, stuck in giant form as Ant-Man, has managed to tame the dragon Fin Fang Foom and acts as the protector of the seas.
All of this is drawn in great detail by Coello, who continues to redesign the House of Ideas’ inhabitants to fit this new world. Nightcrawler and the X-Men get a redesign fitting their life as swashbucklers, with the teleporting X-Man sporting an eye patch and a long red coat. Colossus has grown a long ponytail and beard, and Storm wears regal robes that have the same black and yellow colors as her X-Men uniform. The Ghost Raiders carry machine guns in addition to their flaming skulls and chains, making for a frightening sight. And the action sequences grow more intense as the issue goes on, from a character being impaled by a grappling hook to Colossus hurling both Wolverine and Scout as part of a double fastball special. Sabino fills the page with trademark sound effects, including the “snikt” of Wolverine’s claws and the “bamf” Nightcrawler makes when he teleports-adding extra oomph to the action.
However, the biggest draw of the issue is the character interactions. Storm and Black Panther have remarried and have a daughter, with the Panther opening Wakanda’s borders to all. Both Spider-Man and Luke Cage not only have to deal with the prospect of fighting an immortal mutant warlord but looking after their daughters May and Danielle as the girls snuck aboard the Helicarrier. Pepper Potts is determined to move heaven and earth to rescue Iron Man from Apocalypse’s clutches. And nobody trusts Doctor Doom, with Wolverine pointing out that he was a ruthless dictator before the world fell into chaos. That character work is what makes Taylor stand out as a writer, and I’m glad it’s still a part of the series.
Dark Ages #4 begins the second half of the series with a battle on the high seas as the creative team continues to fire on all cylinders. With only two issues left, I trust the creators to wrap things up in style — and potentially break readers’ hearts in the process.
Dark Ages #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Dark Ages #4
Dark Ages #4 begins the second half of the series with a battle on the high seas as the creative team continues to fire on all cylinders.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.