And so folks, that’s a wrap. Issue 4 brings us to the conclusion of our first Dark Souls comic series. I wasn’t exactly sure, when George Mann and Alan Quah were planning to finish up this series; however, I will admit I was hoping for a longer run. We’ve spent the last three issues with Fira and Aldrich, and if you’re anything like me, you will have grown quite attached to these characters. It feels as if these comics have been a series of high notes. And, I suppose, if we have to say goodbye, then this is the time to do it because Issue 4 is the highest note yet.
I said, in my review of the previous issue, that it was time to start filling in the blanks about Fira’s past. This issue opens as Fira encounters another knight of her order. The meeting, however, does not go as planned. After assisting the knight in his battle, Fira points her sword at him, demanding to know ‘from where’ he took his armour. At this point, it’s important to remember that Fira believed her order was defunct: destroyed, disbanded, and cursed. Guided by Aldrich, Fira had undertaken this quest to save her family and her order. So the existence this other knight threatens to redefine Fira’s view on the world. And, it does just that.
This knight, Jarus, reveals a great deal about Fira’s past: she was the one who destroyed her order, burning anyone who had succumbed to the hollow curse. At this point, it became clear that Fira’s suspicions – from the last issue – were valid; Aldrich was withholding information. In fact, Aldrich had been misleading Fira this whole time. As Jarus reveals the truth to Fira, we see Aldrich approaching him from behind, dagger in hand; however, Aldrich’s attempted assassination is foiled when Jarus snatches the dagger from his grasp. Jarus implores Fira to banish the curse, to ensure that no one else will suffer the loss that she had caused him.
And so the heroes continue, with Aldrich in tow, to the pyre and the cradle of light. There, they rekindle the flame and the dragon Andolus is born again. The dragon’s rebirth sequence showcases the series’ best artwork. Rather than taking the typical comic-style approach, the artists have used the dragon’s wings to separate the frames, allowing them to simultaneously depict two aspects of the story. Of course, once this sequence ends, it’s straight back to the action. Fira engages the dragon in battle, and eventually stands over its body, ready to land the killing blow.
The prophecy states that, for the world to continue as it is, the dragon must die. So here, Fira faces the same decisions that players face at the end of the Souls games: to continue the cycle or to break it? Her companions only make the choice harder. But when Fira sides with Jarus and decides to spare the dragon, Aldrich steps forward to do the deed himself. Fira cuts him down, and leaves him, half-dead, on the cliff side. Her and Jarus leave the pyre, going their separate ways. And, so the series ends with the dragon Andolus living still and the land of Ishra returning to life.
So there it is, the end of the Dark Souls comics. And what a way to go out. This final instalment really is the highlight of the series. We’ve gained an insight into Aldrich’s past. And this conclusion provides us with an understanding of how he came to be the ‘Saint of the Deep’. We’ve been exposed, in typical Souls fashion, to a twisted and cursed world. And while we know that Ishra will return to life, the fates of Fira and Jarus are somewhat ambiguous. And Andolus’ final dialogue doesn’t give us any hints. The dragon merely states that ‘time, and the circle of all things, shall tell.’
I actually quite like the open ending of the series. It allows Fira to display a depth of character, that, until now, she’d been lacking. The verdict is very much in the air as to whether or not her choice was the right one. And, like many things in Dark Souls, this is sure to divide audiences. Despite the ambiguities in the universe, I can safely say that Alan Quah and George Mann have done an amazing job with this series. They’ve created a new world that upholds many of the Souls themes, and they’ve riddled that world with both new and familiar lore. Fira’s tale was a tragic but satisfying experience. It’s set the bar high for any future additions to the world of Dark Souls comics.