Indie Comics – Darkest Rout
This months comic is Darkest Rout (I always want to say THE Darkest Rout) by Antwone Barnes & Kip Henderson. Darkest Rout deals with a reflection on death, with Antwone being inspired by loss in his personal life. This is something I dealt with personally quite a bit the past few years and I can relate to how that changes you. The comic was brought to life after a successful Kickstarter campaign last August.
“So, picture this: I’m a few months into
the pandemic. All my creative energy is
out the window and I’m living in a bleak
void of my own making. At this point I
had watched every TV show in my
streaming bundle, played every video
game in the discount section, and snacked
on pretty much anything I could find
around the house. It was bliss and misery
wrapped into one. But one day, it hit me—
All that busyness was just a distraction
keeping me from dealing with how I was
really feeling.”Antwone Barnes – Author
The Darkest Rout reminds me a bit of Harry Potter, The Witcher and Loki with its fantastical and magical elements. The alternate universes that the main character is exposed to after touching a magical artifact especially remind me of Loki. It was a quick read and really picks up once the main character Nate is introduced to Artewin, who serves as his snarky mystic guide. The first issue gives you 65 pages of content that was engaging, well paced, and well illustrated.
Art and Style
The art of Darkest Rout is done by Kip Henderson. I felt like Kip especially excelled at character facial expressions which bring life to the words that Antwone wrote. The muted colors throughout the comic gives it an eerie otherworldly feel. This is broken during action scenes with bright yellow and red being used to accentuate the intensity of the situation the characters are in.
Cultural Impact and Representation
One of the things I appreciate about the Darkest Rout is that while Nate is Black, stereotypes aren’t used to flesh out his character. Nate is an artist and shows vulnerability in the panels and isn’t the hyper masculine Black-male archetype that I see in a lot of comics. He doesn’t get powers and all of a sudden gets bravado – quite the opposite Nate is afraid of his new power and wants to get rid of it. I feel like that is the most realistic response to someone coming into contact with other-worldly powers. The way that Nate interacts with his roommates reminds me of how me and my college roommate would talk to each other. Sometimes you go out, but sometimes you got to stay in and chill.
Writing and Narrative
The pacing in the Darkest Rout is satisfying as it doesn’t take a ton of pages before the action starts moving along. After a critical moment in the first few pages, you are introduced to the main character Nate. Nate is a relatable college aged Black male that is going through the motions many of us did when we first starting trying to make it out on our own. The writing kept my attention the entire way and I am looking forward to seeing how the story expands, especially with the mentioning of psychics, warlocks, and mystics. I have been playing a lot of Baldurs Gate 3 lately, so that is right up my alley.
Darkest Rout is definitely worth checking out if you are into the mystic. You can check out a copy on the website at Darkest Rout. If you do happen to read it, let me know what you think on our social media @blerdofficial.