About The Dark Knight
The story begun in The Red King continues as survivors band together to build a modern-day castle against a tide of dark forces overrunning Southern California. While Frank and Holiday struggle for power, Ash ventures into the night to rescue a lost special needs adult who has unknowingly glimpsed a horrifying future: a future where man is on the verge of extinction and a new predator rules the planet. The Apocalypse Weird is beginning, and it might just be something bigger than anyone ever imagined … or feared.
About the Author
Nick Cole is a working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can often be found as a guard for King Phillip the Second of Spain in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera or some similar role. Nick Cole has been writing for most of his life and acting in Hollywood after serving in the U.S. Army.
[I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from the author for review.]
I'll be honest - when I found out that Nick Cole's second entry in the Apocalypse Weird bookverse would be including a special needs character obsessed with Batman, I was little apprehensive. Would this just be a silly gag, or a manufactured attempt to tug at people's heart-strings?
There's a certain amount of deftness that goes into creating and respectfully handling characters with special needs, and I worried that such a character might be improperly tended to, or that the balance required in fleshing out such a character properly would somehow be upset. It wasn't a matter of Cole being PC or not; I just didn't want the story or the character to feel cheap, and I didn't want this character to be, even worse, just a prop.
Mostly, I just wasn't as familiar with Cole's work as I should be, having only read his prior AW entry (sorry, but I haven't gotten to Soda Pop Soldier or The Wasteland saga yet...), and so I was unsure of his sensibilities as an author. And, shame on me for the apprehension. Cole handles this aspect of The Dark Knight with delicate aplomb and creates a character in Corey that is fleshed-out nicely. I really shouldn't have worried, and this character becomes one of the more engaging aspects of the book and takes center stage beautifully. I was a bit broken-heated over Corey's background, but not in a used, schmaltzy way. Cole quickly convinced me that he was writing a human being, with real human struggles, one that I could relate to and empathize with. I was worried about artifice, while Cole was serving up authenticity. I was right there with him, in the middle of this zombie plague, worrying for him and hoping he'd make it through OK.
Nicely done, Mr. Cole. I'm sorry to have doubted you initially, but count me as a fan now, please.
Regarding the rest of The Dark Knight, we pick up with the prior book's survivors dealing with the personal fallout from that climax, and it proceeds in sensible fashion. Holiday isn't quite the drunk he was last time around, working to make amends, but whatever trust he'd built up has been squandered. There's a simmering tension between he and Frank, with the latter routinely calling out Holiday's lack of foresight, and you just have to wonder how long it'll be before these two snap and try to pound one another into the ground.
And, although I enjoyed Book 1 in the WYRD series, The Red King, I did have a few quibbles with it and felt it carried a little too much on its shoulders. The Dark Knight is measurably better, in my opinion, and now that there are other Apocalypse Weird novels breaking out onto the scene it allows Cole to focus solely on his own story without having to tease, and leave unresolved, other weird disasters that AW authors will be tackling. The core of the story is dynamite, and it's allowed now to exist on its own, with its own agency, and act as less of a set-up for other ancillary tales. That said, some of the dangling threads from the prior book are explored here in much greater detail, and far more satisfactorily, helping to showcase the unusual dual nature in mankind's fall by way of zombie horror and a detour to...well, I won't say much more lest I ruin the fun!
We're in a good spot with this AW bookverse now, and things are really shaping up nicely. With six titles in the wings, there's plenty of pages out there to determine the worth of this ongoing Apocalypse Weird enterprise, and, man, I really think it looks like a winner. I'm excited to see what comes next, and will be anticipating my next fix of strange end of the world scenarios, along with the next WYRD book, naturally.