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Zoey would like to have a word with you
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A Voice in the Dark, originally titled Dark Zoey, is a black-and-white comic book written and drawn by Larime Taylor, published by Image Comics under their Top Cow imprint. The series follows Zoey Aarons, a burgeoning Serial Killer, as she struggles with her violent urges and temptations after leaving her home to attend college at Blair University, also known as "Slaughter U" (Do not worry, it is only called that because the woman the college is named for originally had the last name "Slaughter" before she changed it to "Blair". Of course, the town is also the serial murder capital of the world, but that is probably just a coincidence). After arrival she starts a call-in show at the university's radio station called "Voices in the Dark", hoping that having a stable situation to anonymously discuss her feelings and temptations will allow her to control her darker impulses.

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The series premiered to almost universal critical acclaim, described as "Strangers in Paradise meets Dexter"...by Strangers in Paradise author Terry Moore no less. Just as impressive as the book itself is the fact that writer/artist Larime Taylor is disabled, drawing and lettering the comic solely with his mouth, with covers colored by his wife Sylv Taylor. The cast of the series is predominantly female, with a diverse array of ethnic backgrounds, body types and personalities. The art style is characterized by realism in body forms, using real-life models for staging, and grayscale coloring.

The original story-arc was funded by Kickstarter, with a another Kickstarter campaign funding the second arc before it was picked up by Image for publication and distribution.

As an ongoing series, beware of spoilers.

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Tropes present in A Voice in the Dark include:

  • Abusive Parents: "Heather"'s parents are over-controlling and pressuring, but also blame her when she was raped by a musician her father wanted to sign as a client.
  • A Darker Me: When Zoey goes to a costume party dressed as Cleopatra, she deliberately makes herself unrecognizable so she can observe the party without being recognized. She acts different as well, flirting with boys, makng small-talk, and dancing.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Zoey decides to kill Annabelle Turner both in vengeance for what Annabelle had done to Seven, and also to feed Zoey's own urge to kill. However, Annabelle's last words are "I'm sorry" and Zoey is visibly shocked at the way that changes everything.
  • All There in the Manual: The initial issues came with backmatter (Titled "Gray Matter") giving background information on various characters. At the start of the series, Zoe is 18, Seven is 17 and Ash is 20. Seven's birth name is Jas Song, the daughter of Cambodian immigrants, and Ash is a Literature major.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Annabelle Turner was the Alpha Bitch of Zoey and Seven's High School, and toyed with Seven's emotions when Seven fell for her. She became Zoey's first kill in vengeance.
    • "Heather" describes herself as a "Queen Bee" when discussing how she is pretty and popular in high school, and is not bullied or part of the downtrodden cliques.
    • Mandy Jenkins heads the sorority Lambda Theta Kappa and has a lot of influence at Blair because her family donates a lot of money to the school. She is racist and rude to Ash and Zoey, and browbeats Krista into having sex with a boy that she wants to stay around the sorority.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: When Krista goes to a party thrown by her sorority, her "big sister" Mandy Jenkins tells her to make sure that one particular guy enjoys the party and wants to come back for more. She gets to the point where she explicitly tells Krista to get physical with him in order to give a good impression.
  • Asshole Victim: Zeke, Zoey's cop uncle, points out that the fact that they were murdered by "Heather" does not make her parents any less contemptible themselves.
  • Attempted Rape: Brock attempts to rape Zoey when she infiltrates a Lambda Theta Kappa sorority party, but the unnamed Hockey-mask party-goer interrupts and knocks Brock out.
  • Bi the Way: Ash casually mentions to Zoey that she is bisexual when trying to get Zoey to accept that she (Ash) knows when a woman is physically attractive. She is not hitting on Zoey, but just wants Zoey to recognize that she is not just giving friend-compliments.
  • Brutal Honesty: Zoey describes her roommate Mona as "Blunt. Very upfront and honest." On their first meeting, Mona asked if Zoey was of mixed ancestry and explained that she has to pay to make her hair look like that.
  • Bully Hunter: Zoey's first kill, Annabelle Turner, had driven Zoey's best friend to attempted suicide.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Seven flirts with Ash at their first meeting, Zoey points out she will still need to live with Ash after Seven is gone and ends with "you're jailbait." Seven then asks what the age of consent is in California.
  • Coming-Out Story: In one of her classes, discussing bullying and youth culture, Zoey relates the story of her best friend Seven and how she was outed to the school and her parents, who disowned her.
  • Creator Cameo: Larime Taylor drew himself at the sorority party in issue #4, appearing as one of the many people hitting on Zoey.
  • Daydream Surprise: Zoey frequently has fantasies about killing the people around her, and sometimes she herself is unaware that it is not real until the daydreams end.
  • Diary: Zoey keeps a diary, which is used as narration for the series. Each time she fills up a book, which includes details on her violent urges and past killing, she burns the book and starts a new one.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: When going to a party, Ash points out to Zoey that she does not have to drink alcohol, even if she does not want to make an issue by refusing an offered drink. She helpfully instructs Zoey on pouring out her beer without being noticed.
  • Downer Ending: The first arc ends with Zoey's first radio show ending with a caller murdering her parents while still talking to Zoey on the phone.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Seven, Zoey's best friend, tried to kill herself a year before the series. She had fallen for Annabelle Turner, a popular girl who was only toying with Seven's emotions. After Annabelle outed her at school, her school counselor accidentally outed her to her parents, who subsequently disowned her.
    • "Heather" believes that Trinna Goff attempted to kill herself because she and her friends got Trinna drunk and spread around pictures of her naked.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • In the first two issues Zoe meets the three women she is roommates with:
      • Zoe meets Ash, the Perky Goth, first. Ash accepts Seven's flirting and welcomes Zoey to the dorm and gives her information on the other roommates.
      • Krista is "really friendly. Almost too friendly. Obnoxiously friendly." Zoe describes her to her uncle Zeke as "a really blond, really perky puppy."
      • Mona is blunt and direct, directly asking about Zoey's ancestry.
    • Mandy Jenkins' first appearance is to berate Krista for bringing "chunky Pete" (Ash) and "chia pet" (Zoey) to a sorority party, then browbeats Krista into sleeping with a boy that Mandy wants to entice to stay around.
  • Exact Words: When a fratboy hits on Ash by asking "will you fuck me", she points out that he asked "me to fuck you".
  • Eye Scream: One of Zoey's fantasies is stabbing a classmate in the eye with a pen.
  • The Faceless: Brock Kazinski, the basketball player boyfriend of Mandy Jenkins, is so tall that his head is always outside the frame when he appears. Only his body from the shoulders-down is visible. There is a partial glimpse of his face when he is attempting to rape Zoey, and a final full shot as Zoey kills him.
  • Flipping the Bird: Zoey flips off her image when talking to her darker impulses, but since she is just facing a mirror all she does is flip off herself.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Defied with Zoey. The very first issue opens with Zoey explicitly stating that she was never abused as a child and there was nothing that "turned" her into a serial killer.
    • "Heather", the caller on Zoey's first night on the air, is an Alpha Bitch (Self described "Queen Bee") who contributed to the sexual assault of a less-popular girl who tried to fit in with her circle. She goes on to describe how she herself was assaulted years earlier and tried to put what happened to her onto other people.
  • Friend on the Force: Zoey's uncle, Zeke, is a homicide detective in the town where she goes to college. Though Zoey is not an amateur detective or other such trope-trappings, his knowledge of the law and people is very helpful to her.
  • Full-Body Disguise: When Zoey needs to get a look at the layout of the Lambda Theta Kappa sorority house, she decides to sneak in during a costume party. To make sure she is not recognized she uses a wig, makeup, costume, and even full-body bronzer so that not even Krista recognizes who she us.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The radio station call sign is KILL. They lampshade it with their tagline "Killer Campus Radio".
  • Gallows Humor: The detective who works with Uncle Zeke on the serial murders makes sexual jokes about the corpses since the victims were young, attractive women.
  • Genki Girl: Krista; Ash credits her persuasive abilities to her "winsome perkiness".
  • Granola Girl: Krista, one of Zoey's roommates, makes all-organic buckwheat pancakes with bananas and walnuts for the dorm.
  • Happily Adopted: Zoey's family adopted Seven, her best friend, after Seven's parents disowned her when they learned she was gay.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Zoey goes to a party in order to have a chance to examine the Lambda Theta Kappa sorority house. Since it is a Halloween party she goes in costume, and since nobody recognizes her nobody questions why she is there or what she wants. However, even though he does not realize that she is Zoey in disguise, Brock does notice her snooping around the house and breaking into Mandy's room.
  • How We Got Here: The second arc of the series, "Killing Game", begins with Zoey having killed again. Each issue briefly spends a few pages on the aftermath "Now", then spends the majority of the issue on "Then" to describe how Zoey got to this point.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The college is named "Blair University", but it is nicknamed "Slaughter U". Ostensibly that is because the namesake of the university, Amelia Blair, originally had the last name "Slaughter", but the town is also the serial murder capital of the world.
  • I Have No Son!: Seven's parents disowned her when they learned she was gay.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Zoey has extremely strong urges to kill, but does not actually want to be a killer. She hopes that her talk show will allow her to let out those feelings and be able to live a normal life.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Zoey has frequent daydreams of killing the people around her. Occasionally, elements of the daydream (Such as the imaginary wounds) will persist after she has "woken up."
  • In Love with Your Carnage: The Blair serial killer has somehow discovered that Zoey is also a killer, and sends her notes saying "I like your work".
  • It's All About Me: Briefly discussed in the opening to issue #5. When Zoey tries to apologize to Ash for the problems Mandy Jenkins is causing for her, Ash snaps at Zoey for making her problems about Zoey. Ash has enough trouble without also needing to comfort Zoey over her guilt, so it would be better for all of them if Zoey did not try to accept fault for the whole situation.
  • It's Personal: All of Zoey's victims have victimized Zoey's friends, family or herself.
  • Last Words: Annabelle Turner's last words were "I'm sorry" when Zoey said that she was killing her because of what she had done to Seven. This visibly shocks Zoey, who realizes that it was absolutely nothing like the way she thought her first murder would go.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Zoey talks to herself in the mirror, and the mirror (The representation of her violent urges) talks back.
  • Masquerade Ball: Lambda Theta Kappa hosts a Halloween costume party. Zoey, who wants to get a good look at the layout of the sorority hose, goes in costume as Cleopatra so nobody will know who she is.
  • No Name Given: When she calls into Zoey's radio show, "Heather" picks her pseudonym based on Zoey's choice of "Veronica" (Referring to the movie Heathers). Her real name, and the names of her parents, are never revealed during the story. Several issues later, back matter framed as an in-universe newspaper reveals that "Heather" is Jessica Lindy, and her father was Mitchell Lindy
  • The Perfect Crime:
    • Zoey plans out all her kills very methodically to make sure that she can commit the crime without being observed, dispose of the evidence so it will not be discovered, and also have an alibi for herself in the event that she is suspected. She was a "person of interest" in the murder of Annabelle Turner, but was never an official suspect and avoided even general suspicion. She arranged an alibi by entering a public library, in view of staff and the security camera, and then changing into an unrecognizable outfit to leave for the killing. After she returned to the library she changed back into her original outfit and walked out again in view of the security camera, giving the impression that she had entered and remained in the library for the entire time.
    • When killing Mandy and Brock, Zoey used pre-recorded music and dialogue to give the impression that she was at the radio station for her regularly scheduled show. She pretended to be sick and spoke with an altered voice to explain why she was not accepting calls like usual. However, despite this effort, she was discovered by the Blair serial killer.
  • Perky Goth: Ash, one of Zoey's roommates. She's a little bit less on the "Goth", but retains the element.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Mandy Jenkins' first appearance is to berate Krista for bringing "chunky Pete" (Ash) and "chia pet" (Zoey) to a sorority party, and then calls Ash a "fucking dyke" and Zoey a "nappy-headed piece of trash" to their faces.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When Zoey is considering killing Mandy and Brock, she rationalizes her decision by pointing out that all the two of them have to offer the world is casual rape.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Mandy Jenkins' comes from a wealthy family, and because her family donates so much money to the school Mandy has a lot of influence over politics at Blair University.
    • Inverted with Zoey. When Mandy Jenkins planned to use her family influence to harass Zoey after they came into conflict at a sorority party, her father refused to do so because he knew Zoey has an uncle on the police force and it would be an influence-fight that they might not win.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: "Heather" was sexually assaulted by a musician that her father was hoping to sign as a client.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Zoey Aarons is self-aware that she is growing into a serial killer. She starts off the series with one kill already.
    • The college town around Blair University is apparently the serial-murder capital of the world. At the start of the series there is a killer working through the young women of the area.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: Zoey's Cleopatra costume for a Halloween party gets party-goers wondering who that unknown hot woman is.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Though Ash tells her that she is attractive, Zoey spends most of the series wearing unflattering street clothing and viewing herself as average (Not ugly, just normal). When she decides to go to a Lambda Theta Kappa costume party in disguise so she can snoop around, her entrance in a Cleopatra costume gets party-goers talking about who that unknown hot woman is.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Author Larime Taylor is a fan of the film Heathers; Zoey uses the pseudonym "Veronica" on her show and asks if there is a "JD" in her audience. One of her first callers uses the name "Heather".
    • After choosing the pseudonym "Veronica" (See Heathers) for her radio show, Zoey's first caller makes reference to "Betty" and she refers to him as "Jughead". These are all character names from Archie Comics.
    • On Zoey's third show, she chooses the pseudonym "Antigone" and her last caller calls himself "Haimon". Both are characters in Antigone. "Haimon" is the serial killer killing students at Blair, and in the play Haemon and Antigone are Star-Crossed Lovers.
    • When Zoey infiltrates a Lambda Theta Kappa sorority party dressed as Cleopatra, she meets a man wearing a hockey mask. When he says that he is actually there as an employee, she asks if he is from "Crystal Lake Catering". Crystal Lake is the setting for the Friday the 13th film series, the most famous character of which is Jason Voorhees, known for wearing a hockey mask.
  • Shower of Angst: After Mandy Jenkins pressures her into sexual activity with a boy at their sorority party, Zoey hears Krista crying in their shared bathroom. The sound of the shower soon covers up the noises.
  • Show Within a Show: Zoey starts "Voices in the Dark" as an anonymous call-in radio show where people can share and talk about their dark thoughts and impulses that they otherwise keep hidden. She hopes that by letting out her darkness in this forum she can stave off more killing and live a normal life.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Zoey's parents had a somewhat rocky start to their relationship. Partly it was because her father had to be pushed into asking her mother out on a date, but also because her mother was originally interested in her Uncle Zeke, who is gay.
  • Straight Gay: Zoey's uncle, Zeke, is a homicide detective portrayed as common-sense cop character and father-figure.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Issue #5 reveals that Ash slept with one of her professors in her freshman year, and that she was far from the only student that the professor slept with, including Mandy Jenkins. When it comes out, Ash gets her credits from that class voided and Mandy is not even mentioned.
  • Teen Pregnancy: On her first show, Zoey gets a call from "John", who is concerned that his girlfriend is pregnant and is unsure of how to handle the situation.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: When Zoey agrees to go to a sorority party with her roommate Krista, there is a page of people who attempt to hit on her. Most use the "standard college pickup line", but others are more...creative. Larime Taylor drew himself into the scene as one of the flirters.
  • That Poor Plant: When Zoey pours out her beer without drinking any, she comments that she might have gotten a plant drunk during the evening.
  • Troll: Zoey's first ever caller on her radio show is a troll who makes a sexual reference regarding her pseudonym. She promptly hangs up and announces to her audience that she does have caller ID, so even though you can give a pseudonym she does know where you are calling from.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Zoey is exploring the layout of the Lambda Theta Kappa house she is caught and Brock attempts to rape her. The unnamed hockey-mask-wearing party-goer rescues her by knocking Brock out. It is implied that he is actually the Serial Killer that has been murdering female students at Blair, but more issues will be needed to confirm if he is or is not.
  • X Days Since: Zoey's starts her diary entries with the number of days that it has been since she killed someone. The first issue starts at 72 days since she has killed someone.
  • Year Zero: Zoey counts days from the last time she killed someone, indicating how much time has passed in the comic between and within issues.
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