Writer Sylvain Runberg, who also writes the future worlds of Orbital, returns with Dual Nature, the third of the nineteen century set Darwin’s Diaries with art from Eduardo Ocana and which continues the ongoing story of scientist Charles Darwin’s investigation of cryptozoological animals from the first two books.
In Yorkshire the murderous beast is dead but, with the carcass gone and its military escort massacred, could there be a second beast on the loose? A train derailed into a river killing all on board dead leaves the authorities unsure if the train was also the subject of a vicious beast attack but Darwin has his suspicions. As he returns to his lodging house to discover a dismembered, partially eaten body in his bed, these suspicions focus on the attackers being some sort of were-beasts because he now knows that he himself is one.
Runberg’s ongoing story of fast visceral attacks by the barely glimpsed beasts in the previous two books moves into a more explanatory mode as new characters come to the fore to explain to Darwin, and the reader, the dual nature and something of the background to the were-beasts. What was a darkly brooding mystery moves rather more into the territory of the film series Underworld, as beasts battle beasts over the years.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all the Underworld films are enjoyable, but it is not quite what I was expecting of this series based on its previous outings. It would probably take a fourth book to show if this is to the general benefit or detriment of the series, although Cinebook have now caught up with the French releases and Runberg currently has no plans for further episodes.
Ocana’s artwork remains a delight, albeit a gory one, with his sense of motion during the silent (as far a speech bubbles are concerned) beast attacks continuing to be a highlight of the books while his framing and scope of his panels often give them a cinematic feel.
Darwin’s Diaries – Dual Nature clears up much of the mystery of the previous two books as well as moving the story on to a conclusion that leaves just enough of an opening that Runberg could return to the series in the future if he, or sales, desired.
• There are more details of Darwin’s Diaries on the Cinebook website.
• There are more details of the French Darwin’s Diaries books, Les Carnets De Darwin, on the Le Lombard website (in French).