The Darkness #101 Review

The Darkness #101 Review

Before I start my review, I must confess that this is actually the first issue of The Darkness that I’ve ever read.  I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but it’s the truth.  That being said, I still have a surface familiarity with the Darkness, as well as the characters that have passed through his corner of the Image/Top Cow Universe.  Thankfully, this issue seems designed to operate as a jumping-on point of sorts, as it gives the reader plenty of exposition to sink their teeth into, in case it’s their fist issue of this title.  Not being a long-time reader it’s hard to gauge how this issue would read for them, but from what I can tell it almost feels like a relaunch of the character somewhat, given the story which unfolds in the prologue to this story, showing how decisions were made recently in this universe which led to a rebirth of sorts for the universe.

There are some strong story beats to be found within this issue, as Jackie is forced to confront the evil of the Darkness, and try to extricate himself from it for the good of us family after he receives an ultimatum.  However, despite all attempts to do so, and rid it from his soul, it may not have been as successful as hoped, as his most cherished member of his family is put into mortal danger.

The characterization for the Darkness/Jackie felt like it lacked a strong authorial  voice, as it felt like the character waffled a fair bit throughout the issue.  He comes off as strong to those who he is the boss to, but then when he comes home, the power shifts immediately, and as a result Jackie as a character starts to lack a sense of self for the reader to really identify with. The parts of the issue dealing with Jackie trying to get rid of the Darkness are among the strongest aspects of the issue, as it’s almost treated like overcoming a drug addiction, albeit one that has infested and infected your soul.

The artwork was definitely not what I expected from an Image Comic, as it lacked some of the sheen and polish I thought I would find, but this is a good thing.  The artwork is moody and atmospheric, and that’s a perfect fit for the tone that this script is attempting to harness.

From a new reader perspective, there’s a bit of an information dump to be had in this issue, but it’s important to get a grasp on this new iteration of the Darkness, and to understand the choice that he makes here, and also to get context as to why he makes the choice, and how the negative affects of that choice could ultimately affect Jackie going forwards.  The issue didn’t blow me away, neither with the story or art, but it was still a decent outing, which served in the jump-on-issue function.

The Darkness II (PS3) Review

The Darkness II (PS3) Review

Feel the Darkness,  be the Darkness.

The Darkness II‘s story picks up a few years after the events of the first game that had the protagonist Jackie Estacado discovering that he could wield dark powers as old as life itself. This power appropriately named the Darkness is a malevolent force with a taste for blood, violence and suffering. Jackie tries to control the Darkness as he wages a one man war against the mafia who foolishly killed his life long soul mate, Jenny, in an attempt to get to him. In The Darkness II it’s a few years later and life is okay for Jackie, he’s a respected crime boss who’s managed to keep the Darkness inside and dormant for a few years, but the pain of loosing Jenny still lingers. Things would appear to on the up and up at least until Jackie is ambushed by armed thugs at his favorite social club. Severely injured, filled with rage, and a taste for revenge, Jackie releases the Darkness. What follows is a twisty dive into Jackie’s mind as he begins another quest for revenge on those who would do him, his family, and his associates harm.

 

…The Darkness II‘s series trademark of “quad-wielding”. The way it works is that you can hold a gun in each hand, they can be the same weapon or you can mix and match things like Uzis and pistols. The twist comes in once you release the Darkness. Once released the Darkness gives you two extra appendages to tear your enemies asunder. In addition to wielding the guns, these dark appendages allow you to stun and grab enemies before you execute them in the most violent way possible.

 

Look for the rest of this review in the upcoming issue of Comics and Gaming Magazine.

THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN #1 Review

THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN #1 Review

The Darkness: Four Horsemen opens in 2006 with Mafia hit-man-turned-hell-host-turned-mob-boss Jackie Estacado paying a visit to family patriarch Lucio Franchetti to purge some mutual bad blood. Once there, Estacado quickly becomes embroiled in a demonic mystery after the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride out of the desert on motorcycles to bring chaos to a small California town.

Aside from some rather questionable character motivation – it’s unclear why the super-powered Estacado needs to do a favor for a crime lord he’s already deposed – The Darkness is pleasantly well written. The dialogue is authentic enough to slip past your nonsense detector, with just the right blend of supernatural intrigue and corresponding human frailty. It’s not high art, but it’s solid pulp fiction that keeps the pages turning at perfectly reasonable clip.

The only real problem is that for a book titled The Darkness, Four Horsemen isn’t all that dark. In fact, it’s almost childishly colorful, like a Sunday morning newspaper cartoon with a wholesome cast of family characters.

That’s not to say that the artwork is bad. It’s just discordantly out of place given the mature subject matter of the book. Four Horsemen contains a healthy (but not gratuitous) amount of gore, yet it somehow fails to fully capture the sense of impending Armageddon communicated in the script.

The book reads fine, so you could attribute the criticism to subjective personal preference. The action is clear and easy to follow and there are a few startlingly gruesome images that are all the more jarring because they don’t seem to belong. You’d simply expect there to be a bit more menace at the onset of the apocalypse.

In spite of all that, the story is still entertaining and suspenseful enough to warrant your attention. Writer David Hine introduces the necessary plot elements to keep things going for the rest of the four part miniseries, and the inevitable cliffhanger – the book ends prior to any real confrontation – should keep you coming back to see how it all plays out.  The Darkness: Four Horsemen is hardly a must-read, but it’s nonetheless a fun end-of-the-world Biblical adventure.