A review copy was provided by Trident Media Group.
Best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is best known for her novels, especially her series of books focusing on the Dark-Hunter Universe. Recently, Yen Press entered into an agreement with Kenyon to release a manga series titled The Dark Hunters: Infinity focusing on the character Nick Gautier. Thanks to the folks at Trident Media Group, I had to opportunity to get my hands on an advance copy of this volume. What did I think of this supernatural story set in modern New Orleans?
The Dark Hunters: Infinity Volume 1 introduces us to fourteen year old Nick Gautier. As an outcast at his school with an exotic dancer for a mother and a convicted criminal for a father, it’s no wonder he has difficulty in his daily life. Everything changes, however, when he’s saved from a band of thugs by the enigmatic Kyrian Hunter. Nick is rapidly thrust into a world of supernatural conflict. Can this young man step up to become a hero? Or is he destined to become a casualty of this unholy war?
Sherrilyn Kenyon has worked on the Dark Hunter series for a few decades, so she’s a seasoned veteran when it comes to these characters and concepts. She’s clearly built a unique mythology involving creatures akin to, but decidedly different from, the vampires, werewolves, demons, and zombies of classic tales. Regrettably, this volume isn’t long enough to explore most of these ideas in depth, but enough of it is presented to be interesting and make the reader want to find out more. There are numerous layers of mystery established, and it’s hard not to become intrigued within a chapter or two. Her characters are fairly well written, each with his or her own unique voice. Nick, as the protagonist, receives the most characterization by far and he’s instantly likable. Nick’s speech is especiallywell done: too often older writers simply make teenaged characters talk like adults or strange slang-spouting parodies, but here Kenyon manages to make Nick sound like an actual fourteen year old while still managing to make his dialogue interesting.
The writing, however, is not perfect. One of my gripes is that this volume contained too many characters. Every chapter, 3-5 new individuals were introduced, with at least 1-2 of them acting as key parts of the plot. As a result, some of them failed to get sufficient characterization or explanation of their relation to one another or their motivations. When Caleb appears, for instance, it’s clear Nick knows who he is, but the reader is never told how they know one another (are they old friends? Brothers? Cousins?). There were also some jarring moments of transition, where it was up to the reader to guess how much time had passed between panels on an individual page; as a general rule, I feel as though such changes should be marked by a time stamp (i.e. “one hour later” or “meanwhile, at the docks”). As a result of these two factors, the middle of the volume seems more disjointed than the opening or the conclusion.
Artist Jiyoung Ahn brings The Dark Hunters: Infinity to life with her pencils. Her work has an animesque style, which works exceptionally well here. The character designs are great, and even minor figures have clearly defined forms that are vastly different from one another. The characters’ facial expressions exquisitely portray emotion. The fight scenes are fairly entertaining, though don’t show anything out of the ordinary for a typical modern manga. The characters’ clothing is another area where Ahn shines, with fashion choices helping inform the personality of the characters. Ahn does a few great designs for supernatural creatures, something I wish we could’ve seen a bit more of in this volume.
Overall, The Dark Hunters: Infinity Volume 1 is a solid read. While the middle is somewhat hard to follow at times, the beginning and ending are both strong and the characters and art are interesting enough to keep you reading. This volume will be in stores starting March 26th, so consider checking it out if you get the chance!
-very good art, especially character designs and facial expressions
-dialogue is believable for each character based on his/her age and life experiences
-many characters introduced in a short period, leading to most of them receiving little development
-transitions are sometimes jarring
-character relations to one another occassionally go unexplained
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He’s pretty sure Dark Hunters features the first use of cattle prods for combat in a manga.
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