Review by Ian Keogh
The Silent Invasion is the very definition of a cult graphic novel series, which must be no end of frustration to both publishers and creators. It’s an excellently crafted series of mystery and paranoia with top creators lining up to praise it, yet it remains without awards and somehow avoids recommendation lists. In short, more people should be aware of The Silent Invasion and how good it is, and in one sense Dark Matter shows exactly why.
It’s been over twenty years since Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas last issued a Silent Invasion story, but NBM have been diligently reissuing their earlier work in newly designed graphic novels, so what better time for a new story? It begins by revisiting Walt Sinkage, brother of investigative journalist Matt Sinkage who disappeared without trace many years previously. After several years Walt starts looking at Matt’s files and begins connecting dots between mysterious sightings, and concludes that maybe his brother was right after all. This isn’t Walt’s story, though, as the main narrative is that of Eddy Dime, assigned to investigate another disappearance and making the connection with some cold cases.
Cherkas is on top form with his glorious retro-styled cartooning evoking the days gone by when men wore trenchcoats and hats, but time has moved on, and the cars no longer have fins. Otherwise, it’s business as usual with the shadows predominating. You’d really have no idea of the time separating this from the work collected in Abductions!
As The Silent Invasion is period work, much the same applies to the story, which has now hit the early 1970s. There’s no separation of credits, but Cherkas co-plots, leaving the script to Hancock, and Dark Matters can be read without reference to any earlier stories. Any reader to whom that applies will find a taut, downbeat noir mystery touching on plenty of conspiracy theories and revealing some of them as truth. On that basis Dark Matters is very good.
The creators are slightly more open about exactly what’s going on than they have been in previous books, but without supplying the nuts and bolts, which is entirely suitable for a story about conspiracies. However, readers who’ve followed the series will experience a sense of deja-vu. Eddy Dime is a nicer guy than the earlier Phil Housley, but the way he’s drawn into an investigation of the great unknowns is very similar, and so is his progression. The considerable similarities don’t invalidate Dark Matter, but it re-treads a lot of old ground.