Looking for a series of fun and interesting stories with twists reminiscent of The Twilight Zone? Then Dark Matter II is right up your alley. This comic features a collection of stories by Chris Sides and most of them deal with horror and science fiction elements that deal with classic tropes such as zombies, time travel, and A.I finding interesting and unique ways to use these tropes to create fun genre tales.
Now above I said most of the stories are like this. That is because there is one story in this collection that sticks out like a sore thumb. “Cerulean Sky” is a story where a cop finds out his brother has murdered another cop and has to make an impossible decision. It sticks out as the odd duck out since there is no science fiction or horror element to it. It also feels less complete than the other stories, feeling like a scene from a bigger story than a complete story in itself. Also some of the art work felt off to me. A few panels the way characters are staged felt too big or are awkwardly angled. That being said I am a fan of the colouring in this story and think it is some of the strongest I have seen lately. While not awful the story feels oddly placed in this collection and is the weakest part of it.
The rest of the stories are a mix of fun horror and thoughtful sci-fi stories. I preferred the sci-fi stories, but the horror stories are enjoyable too. My favourite stories of this collection were “Stay With Me” and “Unspoken”. These two stories show both sides of the debate about A.I. and what it could be. “Stay With Me” shows the dangerous side, that A.I. unchecked and with no one to watch it could lead to disaster. However how can you keep something in check that is learning and has consciousness and will learn to feel and make its own decisions. “Unspoken” shows the positives of a A.I., how it can grow beyond its programming and get to the point where it can decide to save all of humanity even if it has been ordered not to. Both stories work well as a pair, contrasting and showing the benefits and downfalls of A.I.
The final sci-fi story “The Rollover” is somewhat complicated and required me to read it twice to fully understand but what seemed confusing at first is actually a fun crime story that plays like Looper if it was about robbers instead of hit-men. It doesn’t have the philosophical undertones of the A.I. stories but it is a fun crime story and if you are a fan of those or time travel stories then you should enjoy this.
The last two stories, “Fine Dining” and “The Last Batch”, are entertaining horror stories that any horror aficionado will enjoy. One involves a cook who has created a new brand of food with a secret ingredient and the other is a zombie story. Both are stories that have been done before but they are fun, and in the case of “The Last Batch” I can’t remember ever seeing a zombie story where the outbreak started at a brewery. You won’t learn any new truths or find out something new about society but these stories are an entertaining time and should not be skipped.
While nothing groundbreaking Dark Matter II delivers a series of entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking stories. They probably will not change your life but you will be entertained. I look forward to reading a Dark Matter III if one is published and hope it is as good if not better than this collection.
If you are interested in purchasing Dark Matter II you can do so here. If you have read Dark Matter II let us know what you think of it in the comments and/or on twitter.