The Twilight Age Issue One: Abandonment (2009)

Editor Baden Kirgen
Publisher Blackhouse Comics
Writer J. Scherpenhuizen
Art and Colours J. Scherpenhuizen
Genre Cluthu Mythos

Talk us through it

Issue 1 of The Twilight Age introduces us to Justin Barnett, an FBI agent who is pursuing a serial killer nicknamed "Dracula" as civilisation crumbles around him. Dracula inverts his victims, i.e. hangs them upside down, and exsanguinates them, i.e. drains them of blood for any Twilight readers who have stumbled on this review. Dracula has been draining victims across a number of states leaving behind at the scene a configuration of black candles that doesn't seem to follow any pattern and a "mintness" wrapper.

Barnett is based in Savannah, Georgia, and wants to crack the Dracula case before any more of the local citizens turn up looking like extras from a vampire movie. Unfortunately for our FBI agent there is an epidemic raging through the population and his team is being decimated by it. However with single minded determination Barnett is pledged to getting his man regardless of the consequences to himself.

Is there something more to "Dracula" than meets the eye?


"Does the name Lovecraft mean anything to you?" - Dracula

Writer/Artist J. Scherpenhuizen drops the reader right into the middle of things as The Twilight Age gets out of the garage in style. Four FBI agents are heading to the scene where the latest "Dracula" victim is hung upside down and drained of blood. We quickly learn that freak storms are lashing the U. S of A and an epidemic could be pretty devastating to anyone surviving the weather. The hint here is that the epidemic is so contagious that even this team of FBI agents is starting to show symptoms.

By the end of the comic we have been introduced to both the antagonist, Justin Barnett, and the protagonist, the wonderfully insane Dracula. Each has their own agenda and with worlds colliding they could turn out to be pivoted to the survival or not of the human race. You wanted an epic comic? - well J. Scherpenhuizen has thrown one on the table for your enjoyment. If the reference to H. P. Lovecraft is any indication this could be cosmic in scope.

Showing he has an eye for fiction structure, Scherpenhuizen throws out the hints that society is breaking down, under the stress of climatic disorder and a mutating virus, but doesn't get to the end game in the first Issue. Things are going to hell in a hand basket but the Writer here doesn't get carried away and keeps the pacing from galloping too much ahead. We need to know a number of things, have some background going down, and have the ground work laid for the story arcs that are being thrown our way. Sure the central focus is likely to be Barnett hunting down Dracula as the world descends into chaos, but that plan may be slightly hijacked by older gods crashing the party sometime in a future issue. Of course it might all resolve in Barnett trying to keep the gates of hell closed, and the storyline might head off in unexpected directions.

Before moving along I would like to spend some time with Scherpenhuizen's antagonist "Dracula". The character is wonderfully off the planet, in one panel he's skipping after having finished off his latest victim, and there's the slight hint that the supernatural might be at work. Dracula clearly has a plan, there's a method behind his apparent madness, and it looks likely to be in the realms of the mountains of madness. One thing that left me wondering was the "mintness" wrapper, guess even the criminally insane want that minty fresh breath, and the percentage of store clerks who would phone an FBI number when someone brought the brand.

Surprisingly, for a Down Under comic, The Twilight Age is in full colour, Blackhouse extending themselves there. I actually didn't realise this till I was about half way through the first Issue, shows my eye for detail, as I was so engrossed in the unfolding story. It's a welcome change from the typical black and white ink being spilled in most comics, but I don't think it was totally necessary. I'm generally happy with B&W in my panels. Thought I should mention it for those interested however.

The artwork is mighty fine throughout, from the stylised cover to the final panel. Attention has been paid to detail throughout and I loved the different angles being used to present each panel on the page. This isn't your standard eight panel per page effort, though the single panel page wasn't in evidence, Scherpenhuizen is prepared to mix it up to keep overall visual interest high. Great use of colours and simply loved the almost otherworldly tint given to Dracula's eye glasses on occasion. Guess the colour is really being used in some frames to great effect in terms of aesthetics and atmosphere.

If the plotline does follow the expected hints, cluthu mythos and all, one major challenge will be ahead of Scherpenhuizen on the art front. How to visualise Lovecraft's elder gods, you know the creatures Lovecraft's protagonists couldn't describe. On the bright side of the sacrificial knife there's a whole mythos fill of diabolical creations to play around with.

The Twilight Age Issue One is currently available from Blackhouse Comics, click through. What's really cool is that Blackhouse now have an online store, so you can buy the comic, and any others that strike your fancy, without leaving the comfort of your desk. Follow the link from Blackhouse and its "bouncing ball" time to place an order. I'm going to run in and bowl my credit card at the store next week to get some more stuff from Blackhouse, the store is easy to use and the team are right on track with getting your products to you sooner rather than later. Huge thanks to Baden Kirgen for the shop.

Summary Execution ...

J. Scherpenhuizen has put one over the fence, through the posts, and over the winning line, with The Twilight Age issue one. I'm looking forward to getting right into the ongoing story lines and seeing where the Writer/Artist might be taking us. Excellent start to what could be an engrossing world creation, I'm onboard the groove train here already.

Blackhouse had been promising The Twilight Age right from the first issue of The Dark Detective and I for one had been hanging for the comic to hit newsstands. Naturally I must have missed some announcement as Blackhouse currently have issues one to five of The Twilight Age ready for purchase. ScaryMinds will be all over them in the coming weeks folks, stay tuned.

If into comics then The Twilight Age is something you should put on your purchase list, it's simply excellent stuff from both a narrative and artistic viewpoint. J. Scherpenhuizen has created something pretty unique here, hey the X-Files never got down and funky with cluthu, that is not to be missed. I'm pretty sure Australia has another cult comic hit on its hands, we seem to be getting a few recently, so dive in early to be in the cool crowd. The Twilight Age Issue One is going to become compulsive reading kids.

ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...

Does Blackhouse ever let us down!