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Off The Page: Dark Matter

By Patrick McNair Dec 20, 2016 - 7:52 AM print

Identity and memory is what an individual's personality is based on. Take identity and memory away and a whole new person is essentially created. Our experiences inform who we are, creating a sense of self that gives us our own specific identity. If someone were to wake up and find their memories erased, new life experiences would eventually be forged and a new identity emerges. If that same individual saw their past memories, they wouldn't recognise it as themselves: their "past" self would be a stranger to them. Stargate SG-1 writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie would explore the themes of identity and memory in the comic book series, Dark Matter , a four issue story where a disparate group of people are thrown together on a spaceship, having to figure out who they are and where they're going.

The Setup:

Six people awaken on a spaceship with no memory of who they are. The group find a weapons’ shipment on board and discover they are travelling to a remote mining colony. Confused and isolated, the group must work together to find out why they are travelling to their destination and more importantly, uncover their identities.

The Players:

Marcus Boone Ryo Tetsuda

Portia Lin Unnamed girl

Griffin Jones Android

Jace Corso

The Breakdown:

Originally designed for television, Dark Matter was structured as a four issue story arc, intended to act as a springboard for a potential TV series. Citing comic, movie and TV inspirations such as The Shield , The Dirty Dozen and the Thunderbolts , co-creator Joseph Mallozzi conceived of an ensemble series, whereby a group of people with no memory of who they were, needed to work together in order to survive a hostile environment. Dark Matter was published by Dark Horse Comics from January to April 2012, with a collected edition released in October of that year.

Six strangers: four men, one woman and a girl awaken from cryostasis aboard a spaceship with no memory of who they are or how they got there. One of the men to awaken makes his way to the bridge and is attacked by the woman who stabilises the life-support system. The group gradually comes together and demand to know who the others are, but nobody has any answers. While searching the ship, some of the crew are attacked by the ship's android, but manage to deactivate and reprogram it. Confronting the android, it states that it has no memory of such an attack. Before they can question the android’s intentions any further, the group finds themselves attacked by another ship and after a series of evasive manoeuvres are able to escape into FTL, travelling along a pre-programmed set of coordinates to a remote mining colony. Travelling to the planet, they discover that the locals have been subject to attacks by the over controlling Ferrous Corporation, claiming rights to a rare mineral discovered through surveying. The colony objects to this, claiming that they own a stake in the mineral as it was discovered on their planet. The crew debate whether to supply the colonists with weapons from a mysterious shipment they are carrying on board and eventually decide to supply the colony with half of the shipment. The woman recalls the group to the ship as she and the android undercover data files relating to their identities. To their shock, the crew discovers that they are all wanted murderers and thieves (with the exception of the girl, of which there is no information), travelling aboard the Raza . Having uncovered their identities: Marcus Boone, Portia Lin, Griffin Jones, Jace Corso and Ryo Tetsuda; the group come to understand that they were a group of mercenaries sent to kill the colonists, but instead arm the locals with the rest of the weapons in the upcoming fight against Ferrous Corp. When the corporation’s army arrives to subjugate the colony, four of the crew members remain to fight off the invaders, while Portia and the girl travel in the Raza and negotiate a new deal with a different corporation. Just as Ferrous Corp prepares for an orbital strike on the colony, the forces of the Mikkei Combine arrive, forcing the invaders away, the colony, now under the protection and ownership of the Mikkei Combine in a deal brokered by Portia. Departing the colony, the crew decide where to go next, while the girl confesses to Portia that she has been dreaming memories of the crew and that someone on board used a virus to trigger the mass amnesia. On a distance space station, a man asks a bartender if he has seen the Raza and its crew, giving his name as Jace Corso.


Dark Matter is a promising sci-fi comic, providing plenty of entertainment for the reader. The four issue series was adapted into the first two episodes of the TV show of the same name (the intent of the creators), have now been renewed for a third season. At the centre of Dark Matter is an intriguing mystery relating to the six individuals and a midway twist after finding out who they are (or were). The comic is a springboard for the TV series, which in my opinion is worth watching, if you're interested in sci-fi. There are a few minor changes between the comic and the TV show, such as the crew members giving themselves the designations One through Six, in the order they originally awoke and the android being male in the comic, while female in the TV series (portrayed by actress Zoie Palmer). Dark Matter is a concise, entertaining read, with a curious conclusion that continues into the TV show, demonstrating a creative sense of interconnectivity between two mediums. If you enjoyed the comic, then the TV show will be right up your street.

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