Graphic Novel Review: A Voice in the Dark Volume 1 by Larime Taylor
Genre: Horror, Crime
Publisher: image Comics (July 2014)
Author/Artist Info: www.larimetaylor.com
Wendy’s Rating – 5 of 5 stars
Taylor’s crisp lines and style–all drawn by mouth–are wonderfully detailed in their simplicity, and I love how well he brings the characters to life in both art and dialogue.
The striking cover caught my eye first, but when I watched the trailer, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. With tongue firmly in cheek, the trailer informed me that A Voice in the Dark fulfilled all the important criteria I want in my modern day comics, from the Strong Female ProtagonistTM to racial and sexual inclusivity. Which ought to have made me happy, right? But instead, it made me a little angry. Yes, I want those things, but dammit, I don’t want them turned into an advertising gimmick. With these conflicty emotions in place, I decided to grab the first issue. Read it. Bought the next six issues.
A Voice In the Dark is the name of Zoey Aarons’ radio call-in show where she invites people to anonymously share their darker side. Through this, Zoey hopes to find out that she is actually quite normal. That the darkness within her isn’t that unusual, even when it demands that she commit murder.
The comparison to stories like Dexter are immediate, but Zoey doesn’t fall into the typical serial killer mould. In fact, in his introduction, Taylor explains that the point of his story is to take all those typical slasher flick tropes and turn them upside down—starting with the fact that Zoey is a young woman of colour, who, according to the rules, should be one of the first to fall victim. Though Taylor tells Comic Book Alliance that Zoey is not a psychopath or a sociopath, she certainly does fulfill the criteria of the latter. But she is also a surprisingly caring person. The murders she commits or plans are not random and not without very specific purpose: to protect the people she cares about. The focus is, thankfully, not on gratuitously ghastly murders for the sake of shock value, but on Zoey herself.
Meanwhile, there actually is a serial killer roaming around campus. Zoey’s detective uncle is on the case and even seeks insight from Zoey herself, who has read all the books on serial killers that Uncle Zeke has recommended—though that’s not what has made her a killer. Through her inner monologues, A Voice in the Dark pulls the reader along on Zoey’s compelling journey to figure out who she is and why she does the things she does.
Taylor both writes and draws A Voice in the Dark, but I warn that, despite the vibrant covers, the comic itself is in black and white. I noticed a few of the letters mentioning that the black and white was a potential turn off for them, but once they got into it, they couldn’t put it down. Personally, I love black and white imagery. Taylor’s crisp lines and style–all drawn by mouth–are wonderfully detailed in their simplicity, and I love how well he brings the characters to life in both art and dialogue.