Dark Souls 02 is essentially an extended fight scene. The action flows much more smoothly than in the previous issue and more negative space in the panels means that the pages can breathe.
Macroy, the book’s protagonist, is developed somewhat further in the opening pages. There’s a beautifully illustrated scene between him and his father. I found myself feeling more of an emotional connection to him in this volume.
However, I can’t help feel that Macroy is a bit of a Gary Sue. He hasn’t done anything to earn his new fighting prowess or skills – his recently acquired ring gave them to him.
The characters’ speech is an ongoing problem. The comic is medieval fantasy yet the characters use modern phrases and talk like people from the 21st century.
Phrases like “fat chance”, “what’cha looking at” and “I totally spanked the competition” fall off the characters’ tongues. This reinforces my early opinion that this is a superhero comic masquerading as medieval fantasy.
The writer doesn’t seem interested in creating an authentic setting for a sword and sorcery tale. It almost seems as if Dark Souls was originally conceived as a superhero coming of age comic which somehow ended up being written in a different genre.
Exposition remains a problem. Spirits appear in the fight scene for the sole purpose of explaining things to the characters. But at this point, I realized that perhaps this series was aimed at a younger audience.
Rereading Dark Souls 01 confirmed my suspicions. Bad language is largely expressed in symbols and many of the more complex themes in the work are spelled out. If Dark Souls is aimed at a younger audience, I can be more forgiving.
The exposition is then necessary and acceptable in a book for younger readers. The target market will love an action-packed adventure with fearsome dragons, dangerous foes, a lovable side kick and a young hero to whom they can relate.
The modern language used by the characters is a hook – it makes the medieval setting more accessible to the target audience. The ongoing action scenes are necessary to keep their attention.
The artwork is much improved in this issue – the overuse of crosshatching and lines has been replaced with more simple linework. There’s a clearly discernible light source on each page, making it easier to pin-point a focal point. Panel composition has improved – each panel has a main focus. It’s a pleasure to follow a series in which art evolution takes place.
The writing continues to be workman-like but efficient. Once I realized this comic is likely aimed at a younger audience, the use of modern phrases is understandable; a clever technique used to connect the reader to a distant time.
Dark Souls 02 is a fun-filled romp, a kind of Dungeons And Dragons meets Ben 10 that seems suitable for all ages.