The Darkest Hour
I originally picked up the graphic novel Dark Rain (Matt Johnson and Simon Gane) thinking it was going to be a noir crime thriller. I mean seriously, it takes place in New Orleans. How can it not be? But I didn’t read the synopsis on the back.
Ever have a time like that, when you pick up a book based on the cover and title and assume it’s one thing, only to find it is something else? Mind you I didn’t notice the rising waters on the front cover. I might have been in a comics mood and didn’t really pay too much attention. And it was something I hadn’t read before or even heard of. It couldn’t hurt too bad.
Well, you might have figured it out or bothered to check it out and realize before I did that the concept of the story is the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. But there is crime! So I was half right.
What we find is essentially a bank heist in the middle of a huge catastrophe on not only the natural scale but also in execution of emergency measures. I won’t get into the main back drop because too many suffered through it and I imagine don’t really want to go through all that again. But I will say through the visual medium and the interactions throughout the story we are given a glimpse of the world that those affected directly by the flooding and storm had lived through. But again, that is just the backdrop.
The main storyline centers on two ex-cons and the opportunity of a huge score. What could be easier, than going into the center of the flood zone, when the area has been secured and evacuated. There would be no one around to stop them and they could take what they wanted. But no plan ever goes off as smoothly as we think it will.
The major hiccup occurs with the group that gives the book its name. Dark Rain is a semi-corrupt security company that has connections to one of the main characters. Notice I said semi-corrupt. We move from trying to break into the bank to trying to break into the bank before the new nemesis is able to secure it for their own ends.
Basically, what we are looking at is the classic bank heist with all of the strange twists and turns that we can expect and then more because we are also experiencing the heist in probably the worst situation a crook could ever plan a heist in. There are enough twists and turns that we are left wondering who gets their just desserts and who ends up with the treasures that will change their life. And in all of this, it isn’t quite what we originally expected.
Overall, the story plays out as enjoyable. It does tend to be a bit one sided in that we only have the viewpoint of the citizens and the criminals throughout. There are officials who are attempting to do the harder work of maintaining order and safety throughout a trying situation but more often than not they are viewed as corrupt and just another part of the greater problem.
Mind you, when the world is going to hell around you, it stands to reason that you see everyone and everything around you as part of the power keeping you down. It can be difficult to find a shining light of hope in drastic situations. For some that shining light of hope is a touch of madness and disillusionment. For others it is finding the one thing that makes the whole thing worth it in the end.
If you get a chance, check it out. It is an interesting way to gain some perspective on a tragedy in our history.