DARK SHADOWS returns again in this series of five books reprinting the original Gold Key comics from 1968 to 1976. Here is what you get: a seven-page introduction by Jeff Thompson discussing the tv-series and the history of the comics; the first seven issues reproduced in vivid color (including the photo pin-ups of Barnabas Collins and Angelique), along with full-page reproductions of each issue's cover; and a four-page photo/artwork section at the end. Also included is a full-page color reproduction of an Italian movie poster for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. (Update: one disappointment - a few of the pages for Issue #1 are printed out of sequence. You can still piece the story together, but it's annoying.)
The genius of DARK SHADOWS was its willingness to delve into the world of the supernatural five times a week in an ongoing daytime drama. It brought to the fans a legion of unforgettable characters like Barnabas and Quentin Collins, Dr. Julia Hoffman, and the witch Angelique in a succession of story arches set in both the present and the past. Also genius was the writers' use of parallel time for this opened up an unlimited number of possible versions of Collinsport, Maine, where the series was set.
I prefer to think of much of the spin-off memorabilia, such as Marilyn Ross' series of paperback novels and this series of Gold Key comics, as parallel worlds of the DARK SHADOWS mythos. Just as on the show itself, the major characters listed above play an integral part in the plotlines of these comics, but the world itself is often very askew from the one on the show. For instance, don't expect to see many of the characters from the series such as Carolyn, David, or Maggie. Quentin doesn't transform into your typical werewolf; he's more of a hybrid from the Isle of Dr. Moreau. Barnabas "lives" at Collinwood instead of the Old House. Character inconsistencies abound throughout the series of 35 comics. Still, all the elements the fans enjoy remain, such as the people in peril needing Barnabas' help, the time traveling, and the take-offs on classic horror tales.
It's great that Hermes Press has chosen to reprint all the original comics. Obviously, this affords us fans the opportunity to gather these favored childhood treasures all in one place, in much better condition than the original comics are likely to be these days, and at an affordable price. Let's just hope that the release of the four remaining volumes goes more smoothly given the shaky debut of Volume 1.