Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Covers: Stephanie Hans; Becky Cloonan; Alan Davis
Release Date: February 5th, 2020
Buckle your swashes– Robert E. Howard’s feisty femme fatale is back! How does a 1930s literary character set in 16th-century France hold up? Let’s dive into Becky Cloonan’s DARK AGNES #1 and find out!
Our story begins by introducing Agnes’ ne’er-do-well friend Etienne Villiers on the wrong side of a chopping block. His cavalier attitude is a bit over the top, but Becky Cloonan doesn’t have a ton of pages to get into the intricacies of the characters in this first issue, so it’s excusable to a degree. Of course Agnes comes to the rescue just as the axe is about to fall, in a cliché but still impressive introduction to our main character. The gathered crowd, actually against the execution, begin a fun “fish fight” and our two protagonists beat a hasty retreat.
Having made their escape, Agnes and Etienne catch up on old times, and Cloonan uses the flashbacks to give readers background into DARK AGNES, a character many probably aren’t familiar with. The exposition is handled well, and makes you want to find out more about Agnes’ past adventures.
The pair wind up at an inn, where Agnes has a bit too much to drink and almost starts a bar fight. Cloonan again uses these moments to show what readers are in store for with Agnes, and the simple scene of Etienne helping her to bed does more to show their friendship than pages of exposition would have. After a bizarre dream sequence, Agnes literally leaps to the aid of what will become her future employer, which is where this issue ends and our heroine’s next adventure presumably kicks off.
As for the art, it can best be described as inconsistent. Some of Luca Pizzari’s pages are good, especially close-ups. Other pages even the main characters’ looks change from panel to panel. The cartoony anger clouds and lighting bolts above characters’ heads feel unnecessary and out of place. The biggest positive is that there aren’t a lot of blank backgrounds, so that’s something.
DARK AGNES #1 is a fun introduction to a “new-to-me” character. Becky Cloonan doesn’t shy away from the “dark” aspects of Agnes, and drops intriguing clues and tidbits of her past. The inconsistent art holds the issue back from being something special, but there’s enough good stuff here to warrant a look.