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.