Dark Ages #4 Review – The Ghost Raiders Strike!

Tom Taylor has brought his talents of creating a fascinating Elseworld universe to Marvel with Dark Ages. Thus far we have seen what happens when the Marvel Universe technology is completely taken out as heroes and villains must find new ways to survive in this new world. That has led to many intriguing alliances. We also have seen the rise of Apocalypse as the #1 threat to Earth as he is searching for a way to harness the power of the Unmaker. With this major development how will our heroes respond? Let’s find out with Dark Ages #4

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: Iban Coello

Colorist: Brian Reber

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Somewhere in the seas Captain Nightcrawler leads his crew on the Carrier (a decommissioned Helicarrier that has been turned into a pirate ship) to take a large group of refugees from Portugal to Africa, with the continent fully protected by Wakanda. Queen Storm welcomes the refugees to Africa.

Storm then meets with Black Panther to talk about how they are leaving their borders open to refugees due to the threat of Apocalypse. During their talk Nikosazana (Ororo and T’Challa’s daughter) appears to spend time with her parents.

Pepper Potts and Invisible Woman suddenly show up and request to talk with Black Panther.

On the Carrier, after going over their plan to attack Apocalypse’s ruling land Admiral Nick Fury Jr. warns Invisible Woman of the risk of Namor, Ghost Raiders, and other forces Apocalypse controls. Storm says that she can use her powers to get the Carrier to Apocalypse’s ruling land quickly.

It is then decided to have a number of heroes to guard Wakanda while most leave on the strike mission aboard the Carrier.

Black Panther and Storm rule over Africa and open their borders for refugees seeking safety from Apocalypse in Dark Ages #4.

With Storm using the full extent of her power she is able to move the Carrier at rapid speed across the sea. As night falls Storm has to rest after using her powers the entire day non-stop.

Inside one of the Carrier’s rooms Doctor Doom talks with Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Wolverine (Laura Kinney), Honey Badger, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones about what to do with the part of Europe that Apocalypse controls after they kill the villain.

Before they can make a final decision May Parker and Dani Jones-Cage appear having snuck on board. Spider-Man and May’s spider-sense suddenly goes off. As that happens one of the Ghost Raiders stabs Nick Fury Jr. through the chest with his chain.

Wolverine, Honey Badger, and Colossus immediately implement the Fastball Special to fight the Ghost Raiders while Nightcrawler uses his teleportation power to save Nick Fury. Doctor Doom, Iron Woman (Pepper Potts), Iceman, and Blade back them up with a barrage of long range attacks.

With the fighting not stopping Ant-Man appears riding Fin Fang Foom and they immediately destroy the Ghost Raiders ship.

Nightcrawler teleports back on the Carrier having gotten Nick Fury’s body back, though they are too late to save him as he has already died due to his injuries. End off issue.

The Good: The deeper we get into Tom Taylor and Iban Coello’s Dark Ages the more impressed I’ve been with the series. This series has been an excellent example of how to maximize the page count to develop a world and the characters that exist in it to move the plot forward. And Dark Ages #4 was no different as the plot continues moving forward as we learn even more about this version of the Marvel Universe.

The excellent world and character building cannot be understated. Taylor and Coello have really done a fantastic job taking various things past creators who have worked in the Marvel Universe to create their own unique universe. You see that right away with how the marriage of Black Panther and Storm isn’t made into a big deal. It is just a natural part of the world as they are now leading the entire continent of Africa and opening their borders for refugees in need of help. Both from a writing and art perspective you got to see what their relationship is like and how they rule their part of the world without long explanation.

This makes other aspects in Dark Ages #4 to stand out as much, such as Nightcrawler becoming a Captain of a Marauders-like pirate crew with Admiral Nick Fury Jr. helping him to save refugees. The way it was all handled gave you a better look at how the world is still in an unstable state. Not all the people are lucky enough to be living in cities protected by heroes. Nighcrawler’s crew saving refugees further highlights how the world is a worse state as all of Europe seems to be under siege by Apocalypse.

All of this works to elevate Apocalypse as the number one villain in this Dark Ages’ Marvel Universe. The fact that Apocalypse doesn’t physically appear in Dark Ages #4 just adds to his villain status as we see how the heroes are both confident and not confident at the same time with how they say their goodbyes in Wakanda to those not going. Even with their great numbers Apocalypse along with the forces he has assembled make the travel to Europe come across as a suicide mission.

The Ghost Raiders make their presence known by killing Nick Fury Jr. in Dark Ages #4. Click for full page view.

Which makes the development of the Ghost Raiders, a pirate group who wield the power of Ghost Rider, an even more dramatic sequence. Right away they make their presence known by killing Nick Fury in front of all our heroes. That made a statement as to the type of dangers we will see our heroes go up against as they haven’t even made it to the land Apocalypse controls. It also made the entrance of Ant-Man riding Fin Fang Foom to be a big “WOW!” moment.

For as worrying as of a mission that all the heroes are on Taylor did a good job in creating the sub-plot of what will happen if they successfully take down Apocalypse. Doctor Doom bringing up how  they have to think of the power vacuum left by Apocalypse defeat is exactly what he would bring up. Spider-Man and Wolverine bringing up how Doctor Doom is not to be trusted was a good way of showing the heroes are aware of what Doom brought up. Just because Doctor Doom is helping them right now doesn’t mean they can fully trust him now.

The Bad: Nothing.

Overall: Dark Ages #4 was another great read. Tom Taylor and Iban Coello have done such an excellent job merging world building and plot progression to create further investment in this world. In the process the threat of Apocalypse is further elevated by the developments on the heroes side of the Dark Ages story. This definitely continues to be a reading experience Marvel fans should not be missing out on.

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