Dawn: Three Tiers #1-2

By Joseph Michael Linsner
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I have a confession to make. Despite it being one of the mainstays of alternative and independent comics, I’ve never read Joseph Michael Linsner’s Dawn before. I always knew it was out there, but for whatever reason I’d just never picked it up before. Now that Linsner has his new Dawn: Three Tiers mini-series, though, I figured it was as good a time as any to start.

In a world after a heavenly apocalypse, Darrian Ashoka has experienced true love. Her name was Dawn, and while the two went their separate ways, she touched him in ways that he would never forget. Now he stumbles through life in a world still full of war and violence, desperately trying to find meaning where none seems to be present.

I’m not sure what I was really expecting from Dawn: Three Tiers but this definitely wasn’t it. Dawn: Three Tiers is a story about anger, and sadness, and fighting, and death. As a new reader, Linsner did a good job of introducing me into Darrian’s life, and even more of keeping me interested. Darrian’s search for meaning is a journey in every sense of the word, as he refuses to stop moving almost out of fear of what would happen if he did. Death seems to follow Darrian wherever he goes, as well as echoes of his past. Even for someone only as familiar with the world of Dawn as I saw in these two issues, I was able to almost instantly pick up these resonances thanks to Linsner’s careful telling of Darrian’s past in the first issue. It’s the events of the second issue above all else that really impressed me; for a protagonist, Darrian is able to make colossal mistakes, and ones with repercussions that aren’t easily solved, ones that will haunt Darrian for the rest of his life. It’s a bleak story, but enthralling at the same time.

Linsner’s art I had seen before, and it’s as impressive as it was before. There’s a softness to his art, both in the linework and the painted colors by Linsner and Eva Hopkins. I think part of the strength of Linsner’s art is how well he’s able to mix love and violence here without shifting styles; it’s a consistent look that never lets on just what you can expect from page to page. Each page is carefully laid out to gently pull the viewer’s eye from panel to panel, a piece of art in its own right. The contents of each page are just as carefully constructed; Linsner’s grasp of anatomy is striking, with a real design sense for both people and their possessions. It’s a striking final result, and it’s easy to see why Linsner is considered one of comics’s greats.

Reading Dawn: Three Tiers #1-2 is a great introduction to the world of Dawn, and I’m now sorry that I hadn’t ever tried it before. With this new mini-series being published as well as two trade paperbacks also available (Lucifer’s Halo and Return of the Goddess), there’s a whole lot of Dawn out there if you’re also willing to give it a try. I know I’m glad I did. Dawn: Three Tiers is a six-issue mini-series from Image Comics.

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