Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artists: Luca Pizzari & Andrea Broccardo
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Covers: Stephanie Hans; Jay Anacleto & Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Release Date: March 4th, 2020
Agnes de Chastillon and her friend Etienne Villiers have taken a job escorting a nun and her ward to the Chateau de Fontainebleau, home of the dangerous Duke D’Alencon. Sacre Bleu! Let’s see what adventures are in store for the group in Becky Cloonan’s DARK AGNES #2!
The issue picks up where we left off, with Agnes driving a carriage containing Helen de la Mere and Sister Marie. Oh, and Etienne, who can’t stop flirting with Helen even with her guardian nun present. He makes for good comic relief again throughout the issue, and is a nice foil to the stoic and brooding Agnes. Before long the carriage is set upon by a couple of the scoundrels from last issue, looking for revenge. Agnes dispatches one of them, and shockingly Sister Marie finishes off another with a dagger to the throat. She’s well on her way to becoming a Catholic school teacher!
The group soon after arrives at Fontainebleau and runs into an old friend, Francoise de Foix, who informs Agnes and Etienne that the duke is out of town, so the two can let their guard down a bit in that department. Agnes’ reaction to having to wear a dress is amusing, but not as funny as when Sister Marie assures her she would be unrecognizable by doing so. There is some clever writing by Becky Cloonan, but at times it feels like you also need to have taken a French class or two in high school. There are also a few hokey lines spoken aloud to no one like “Vengeance is mine” that feel forced.
At a dinner party we meet a couple more characters, and it begins to feel a little cramped with people we don’t know, people we just met, and people we’re still getting to know, all mostly with long French names. Agnes sees a different guy she wants to murder, and isn’t exactly dissuaded by Sister Marie, who is quickly becoming the most interesting character of the book. That’s kind of a problem. This isn’t “Dark Sister Marie” after all, but up to now her story seems more intriguing than Agnes’s.
At this point the issue really begins to drag. Agnes goes to a costume ball to kill the man who killed her mentor. Wine is drugged, there’s a chase through a hedge maze, and a new character is murdered. It all sounds more exciting than it plays out. Maybe it’s a pacing issue, or maybe Becky Cloonan hasn’t given us enough reason to care about Agnes, but it’s a problem either way.
As for the art, it’s still not great. There are some decent character pieces, but inconsistency runs rampant throughout. The most inventive layout was the hedge maze chase, but even that had its issues. And yes, there were two artists on the book, but that isn’t the problem.
DARK AGNES #2 is a drop off from the promising first issue. There is too much going on but not enough at the same time. Beckly Cloonan shifts set pieces too frequently and throws in too many characters without giving readers enough time with the titular one. The continued inconsistent art doesn’t help the intricacies of the storytelling either. Optimistic readers willing to give this offbeat story a chance will be left wanting.