Dark Beach #2 – Review
Writer: Michael J Ruiz-Unger & Tucker Tota
Artist: Sebastian Piriz
Check out the Kickstarter page for this project now!
Earth is on a journey, you might have been told in school. It moves gracefully around the Sun as the sun itself moves around the Milky Way. But, in the year 2355 things work just a little differently. It’s not that physics has somehow gone astray, but the Earth certainly has. Our world is travelling away from our home for the past 4+ billion years. The Sun is now small enough to directly observe with a telescope without going blind, just another star in the sky. We float through space alone, untethered, and for most of us unaware of our exact past. When a group of Sun Worshipers start to question the official accounts they start dying off one by one. Only an unofficial crime-scene photographer, and construction worker, Gordo seems to have the scent of the killer. But the killer also has his scent.
Dark Beach is a very compelling sci-fi journey into a noir-style murder mystery that grabs your attention from the get go. Ruiz-Unger and Tota have crafted a world and the personalities to match that drive a proper detective narrative while giving us the awe of science fiction. The microcosm they have focused humanity down to is very reminiscent of the single-city noir stories starring Marlowe or Spade, but without the fetters of the stilted dialogue and implied meanings. There is no subterfuge regarding human failings and deviance, nor of the menace that lurks in every page just outside of the borders. Something mean is coming for our protagonist, and we are hanging on to the story as if it isn’t coming fast enough.
The artwork by Piriz is outstanding. It’s colors are just off enough, the edges just flat enough to know something is amiss with this world. The Sun is missing, and replaced with geo-thermal energy and artificial light Sun Clubs. Without that resplendent orb in the sky our vision receives a skewed view of the world and those around us, and Piriz captures that oddness and serves the story perfectly in doing so. Even the parts in full artificial sunlight don’t ring quite true, but everything is flattened a bit as if the source of the light is too close, too electric, to show us reality. It reminds me of looking for my keys in a dropped parking lot. Even under the big light posts, with a flashlight and other car headlights helping to illuminate the pavement, it is still under-saturated. There is a difference without the Sun, and the artwork keeps reinforcing that idée fixe panel after panel.
The creators of this title have given us a view into an artificial world, with artificial sunlight, artificial history, and made it real to the touch. The murder mystery is a compelling plot that moves us along in this world where we are sure to come to a contrast of fact and fiction that I, frankly, cannot wait to read. I heartily encourage you, my dear reader, to pick up this title and expand your comic horizons.