Rainbow in the Dark: The Complete Saga

GameStop, Inc.

by Whitney Grace
Contributing Writer

Rainbow_Saga_CoverBack in the 1980s, it was common to see an after school special where a rock band used the power of music to bring peace to the world. Not surprisingly, these specials just plain sucked. The animation was cheap, the music was forgetful, and the characters had hip eighties names that were very bad in hindsight. Yet many eighties children remember these animation abominations with nostalgic glasses overcoming all the flaws Why? It was because they loved the simplicity of them and they were cool once upon a time. Besides that, when you wash away all the plot devices and kitschy toy tie-ins and a decent idea remains: music bringing peace to the world.

Adam Withers and Comfort Love are an unstoppable independent comic force. They took the 1980s rock and roll cartoon concept and turned it upside down into a soundless “save the world” rock opera. Rainbow in the Dark is about a world covered in the Gloom. Everything is black and white. The heroine, Donna, feels trapped and bored in her perfectly controlled, perfectly gray world and longs for something to make her life spring into action. Color and adventure are just around the corner. Donna sees a colorful group of people driving around in a tricked out hot rod, touting guns and fighting some monsters that suddenly appeared. Donna, at first, marvels at the group, but then she notices the monster about to eat her. The color-coded kids save Donna and whisk her away to their home, where freedom and music breathe in peace.

After her rescue, the outgoing and glamorous Raina, who explains that the Gloom is a force that sucks the spontaneous spice of life out of everyone, quickly befriends Donna. The Veratu, grim reaper like creatures infused with megalomaniac syndrome, command the Gloom. Their plan is to destroy all the hidden resistance pockets and transform people in docile, compliant vessels. Donna, Raina, and their allies battle the Veratu to purge their lives of the gray and evil to a live a true free life, full of music and laughter.

The comic writing duo state that Rainbow in the Dark is a fantastic fairytale rock opera. Little else can describe the technicolor story that blasts from the pages the moment you open the book. While the story telling is strong and concise, one of its biggest strengths comes from embracing characters with more than one skin color, body shapes, and sexual preference. Most comics stagnant on character physical traits, but Adam and Comfort opened the paint box and let everything spill onto the page. Their effort was not forced and gave the comic a sense of realism even though it is a fantasy story. With all sappiness aside, the overall message of standing together and relying on love to solve problems was another positive quality often lacking in more mature graphic novels.

The dialogue is interlaced with song titles and lyrics. Before you know it the tune to some of the songs will be playing as background music. Sometimes these insertions distract from the bigger story, because the song’s themselves carry their own history and that can be overpowering. Rainbow in the Dark also runs a little too fast, one moment they are staging a war and the next they are in the final show down. This is attributable to it first being published as stand-alone issues; it is better to read it smaller chapters to receive the full impact.

Adam and Comfort worked in tandem on the drawings. Comfort did the black and white, while Adam did the colored. Their drawing styles have meshed over the years so that one’s style is indistinguishable from the other. Publishers called the artwork too cartoony, but it lacks the exaggerated quality most American cartoons have. Their style instead is a cross between shojo and the “superhero look” housed in Marvel and DC comics. It is professionally unique.

Rainbow in the Dark is ultimately about love and conquering fear. Some of the themes are a little over-saturated with the “save the world” attitude, but overall an original work.

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