Review: Darwin's Diaries 2 / Author: Sylvain Runberg / Illustration: Eduardo Ocana / Publisher: CINEBOOK / Release Date: Out Now
The beast is dead, but Charles Darwin and the local villagers aren't out of the woods just yet. In fact, they insist on hanging around in the woods far more than is advisable, considering the events of the previous book. As another mauled corpse emerges, tensions heat up further between the villagers and the nearby Celt tribe. Meanwhile, Darwin is still drunkenly frequenting dark alleys, acting less than the upstanding citizen we've been lead to expect from the author of The Origin Of Species. Way to conform to the ill-behaved-atheist sterotype, Darwin.
Despite its slow pace, Darwin's Diaries remains a gripping read. Where a lot of historical mash-up horror comes across as smug or silly (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, or Churchill fighting Daleks), the straight-faced route taken by Darwin's Diaries sets it apart from the rest. The very European artwork is beautifully atmospheric, imbuing even the talkier scenes with a Hammer horror sense of gothic dread and menace. The action scenes are well executed, gory and thrilling, particularly during the second half of the book. If Sylvain Runberg's script feels occasionally stilted (“you know I'm not in the habit of letting people who stay at my hotel get thrashed without objecting strenuously!”) Eduardo Ocana's artwork picks up the slack quite nicely. The square speech bubbles and dull lettering let the side down somewhat, but it remains an impressively cinematic treat.
Death of a Beast ends with a great twist, ensuring its readers will be sure to return for the denouement.