Written by Phil Hester
Illustrated by Romano Molenaar
LANDMARK ANNIVERSARY ISSUE!
Just in time for the release of THE DARKNESS II video game from 2K Games and Digital Extremes, Top Cow proudly releases the over-sized 100th issue of one of their flagship characters. Long time writer PHIL HESTER (Wonder Woman, Green Hornet) concludes his epic run on the series with artist ROMANO MOLENAAR (THE DARKNESS II : CONFESSION) as Darkness bearer, Jackie Estacado comes face-to-face with the source of his power and misery — the Darkness itself! And only one of them will walk away…
Featuring covers by such lumineries as TODD McFARLANE (SPAWN) and MICHAEL GOLDEN (The Nam, Micronauts, SPAWN) alongside THE DARKNESS artists JEREMY HAUN and MICHAEL BROUSSARD!
As part of the Image 20th Anniversary, one of the marquee characters under the Image Comics umbrella celebrates anniversary in his own right with the 100th issue of the long running (but multi-volumed) series! But are Jackie Estacado and the Darklings worth the money?
Follow me into the Dark(ness) to find out!
(Psst! That’s my cute way of saying follow the cut!)
The Darkness was always that franchise for whatever reason I never picked up. I tried to dive in a few years ago, but it didn’t stick with me. However, with the anniversary issue, I thought that it was a good time to check in on the series again to find out if Jackie and company were worth the money. So is it?
Kind of! When you look at the main story, which focuses on a downright bloody brawl between Jackie and the personification of The Darkness, it’s a lot of fun. To put it in terms that nearly every comic fan can understand, this would be Green Lantern beating up on one of his Guardians (or perhaps even more specifically: Kyle Rayner beating up Ion). As something that has long associated as being the same person, it’s refreshing to see the different characters being expanded upon apart, for the sake of building a more well-rounded lead in Estacado.
It truly works on that front as well. Where Jackie is a charming and what you would consider a good looking individual, The Darkness is incredibly ugly. It works off the idea that what seduces you into doing the, well, darkest things may seem like it’s great, but instead it seeks to destroy you. In a twist to this idea, it’s also hinted that this personification of The Darkness was a previous holder of The Darkness, which gives an idea of what Jackie might end up as if he even ends up triumphant. That kind of depth makes for one of the most interesting fights in recent comics history. Even if he wins, does Jackie lose? It’s an excellent concept in the context of the character.
The art, as rendered by Romano Molenaar, is ugly. It’s hideous. There’s no two ways about it. But while you might think I’m insulting his art, it could not be further from the truth. His art looks incredible in this issue; it’s just that the art is SUPPOSED to look ugly. The demonic Darkness entity looks like something that Satan himself might have aborted eons ago. It’s a gruesomely drawn and disgustingly colored character that for lack of a better example is just…ugly. But I hope that if Molenaar reads this, he knows I mean that as the sincerest form of praise.
While I mostly enjoyed this book, there was a slight problem I had with it. It’s not the quality of the book itself; it’s more along the problems I have with most any anniversary issue like this.
It’s expensive! Now, I get the idea that the book is supposed to celebrate the history of the character, who is one o the few superheroes outside of Marvel or DC’s top tier characters to sell 100 issues. Aside from Savage Dragon and Witchblade, there aren’t many in this genre that has done this without a bat or an S or a spider on their chest and it’s an incredibly important achievement for the character and the fans of the character. However, $4.99 for a book is also incredibly steep if you’re just trying to get into a new character; and it could conceivably scare off potential customers. But even if it stuck to the $4.99 price point, it wouldn’t have been so bad if it were truly 48 pages of story.Continued below
It’s not. The first 22 pages or so closes the fight between Jackie and The Darkness, but the subsequent pages preview Darkness #101 (which, spoiler alert, is a much stronger entry point for fans, as much as I liked #100), an interview with the new creative team joining next issue (David Hine and Jeremy Hun), an extended look at the new game, followed by a gallery of all the Darkness covers and closes out with probably the most interesting thing of all these extras: a time line for The Darkness for any newbies. That was honestly the only thing the average newcomer would look at if they wanted to get a sense of the person Jackie was and is going to be. It’s fascinating. But is it worth the $4.99 price point? Maybe, but I’m not sure.
I actually did enjoy this book, and I would recommend at least checking it out. But when it comes to new fans wanting a fresh start, #101 is a much better jumping on point; but more on that later.
Final Verdict: 7.5 — Buy-sh
Coming up soon, you can read all about my chat with Darkness creator where we discuss the anniversary of the book and how he made a character survive in this modern climate! More on that in the coming days!