Nick is given a crash course in the supernatural while trying to stay alive.
Story: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Art/Adaptation:: JiYoung Ahn
What They Say
Nick Gautier has enough trouble dealing with normal teenage problems: avoiding getting pummeled at school, talking to girls, staying out of trouble. Now Nick is facing a whole new world of challenges. As his powers develop, Nick sees supernatural (and potentially dangerous) creatures everywhere he looks. With the help of his Uncle Ambrose-who is actually Nick’s future self communicating his thoughts across time-and his new tutor-the Grim Reaper-Nick must learn to control his abilities and elude the dark powers that seek to control him…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When we last left Nick he was just getting over the strange events of the previous volume, which featured a zombie attack and him learning he’s the son of satan. Well, not exactly either of those two things, but it’s close enough. Now he’s been placed under the care of a man who he believes to be a vampire, but good and evil are not so clear cut in this series.
Nick ends up making new allies in this volume, along with new enemies. He’s constantly warned about various people’s alliances from different groups. Haunted by visions of the future and seeing things that a sane person really shouldn’t be, Nick is just thankful he’s still in one piece even if he feels like he’s going crazy. I’m honestly not sure how he’s holding it all together.
Suddenly other 14-year-old boys in his school start dying, and Nick is split between keeping the truth from his mother, learning new supernatural abilities, and trying to solve the serial murders before he becomes the next victim. I can feel the narrative breaking under the page constraints of the manga format. It’s a common problem in these adaptations, too much is happening all at once and there simply isn’t enough space to give everything breathing room.
The main mystery with the coach and the murders has an interesting hook, but the solution to the problem forces yet another new character to appear, and the resolution feels hollow. I have a feeling that the series at large has a massive cast and that all of these side characters are cameos from that body of work. Easter eggs for long time fans are fine, but for new readers it’s hard to figure out who is actually important to the plot and who is fanservice.
We never do find out where the lines are drawn for different groups of friends and foes. Some demons are good and some are bad, and we have only the words of an unreliable narrator from the future to trust about who is on whose side. Speaking of Ambrose, I’m not sure how time is supposed to work in the Dark Hunter universe, but trying to change the past rarely seems to work out for the protagonist in the end.
I still feel that the dialog is suffering from trying to be cool and coming off as completely unnatural. It’s either an effort of the author trying not to turn the teens into the foul-mouthed creatures teens actually are at the risk of offending certain parent groups, or not being around a teenager in twenty years. It’s especially strange considering we’re constantly told Nick’s dangerously close to slipping to the dark side. If he is they certainly aren’t doing a great job showing it, he’s better behaved than most kids his age.
The artwork is still doing an okay job of portraying the action and characters. The demons have nice designs and all of the characters look distinct. The setting often suffers though, we’re constantly told we’re in the New Orleans area but I never get the feeling that’s where the story is. In fact, and this is hilarious, it took a line of dialog about the Oprah show for me to realize that the story is not set in present day New Orleans. A trip the the author’s website clarified that Nick was born in ’82. This story is set in 1997… and no one told the artist! She draws something that clearly looks like a Nintendo DS and modern computers, and smart phones! No one I knew even had a cell phone in 97! I’m not sure how much of this is the writer’s fault, the editor’s fault, or intentionally fudging the timeline to make it more accessible for a modern audience.
Yen continues to put out nice looking physical books, and this volume opens with several color pages to start the chapter off. The larger trim size matches the other young adult adaptations they’ve released.
The Dark Hunters: Infinity Volume 2 throws Nick into even stranger and more dangerous situations. It still suffers from all of the problems that the first volume did and assumes the audience is completely familiar with the source material. While the mystery at the center of this volume is stand-alone in nature, and not particularly compelling, the events surrounding it are a confusing mix of split loyalties and shadowy threats. The break-neck speed at which all of this information is delivered makes it seem as if time is of the essence, but without knowing what the ultimate stakes are it all turns into a mess of noise signifying nothing. Fans of the series from which this spawned should feel far more at home, the rest of us will be over in the corner scratching our heads.
Content Grade: C +
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B +
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 17th, 2013